Renewable Energy: Growing Pains for Northwest Florida

The business of renewable energy, especially in the 16 counties of Northwest Florida, is going through some awkward growing pains.

Growing Pains The Panhandle’s renewable-energy business sector might have to come to grips with its own limitations By Jason Dehart


The business of renewable energy, especially in the 16 counties of Northwest Florida, is going through some awkward growing pains. It is a new industry for the region, one that is still in its infancy. But regional leaders say renewable energy has the potential to become an economic powerhouse that could help fuel the area’s growth and give energy users — especially homeowners and businesses — a much-needed break on their monthly power bills.


Northwest Florida is now powered mainly through traditional means such as coal and natural gas. Most business, community and political leaders acknowledge that the status quo needs to change. But while there might be plenty of renewable-energy efforts going on here, moving sources such as biodiesel from "cottage industry" status to full-fledged industrial powerhouse is going to take time. And despite talk of a growing reliance on alternative methods of producing energy, including solar, biomass and geothermal, the question remains whether they will be enough to fill our future needs, which are expected to double by the year 2050.

"It’s trying to find its place," said Dave Cartes, director of Florida State University’s Institute for Energy Systems Economics and Sustainability, of the region’s attempt to tap into the nation’s zest for weaning itself off of traditional energy sources. "I think the Great Northwest is searching for its identity (in the renewable-energy mix) in a number of different dimensions."

Growing pains are to be expected, said Al Wenstrand, president of Florida’s Great Northwest, the entity in charge of promoting the region’s economy.

"We are developing a new industry," Wenstrand said. But he has high hopes for the future.

"Going forward, the green energy sector in Northwest Florida is going to support a host of private-sector players in all sizes and disciplines," he said.

Gulf Power Company, PowerSouth and Progress Energy are the big players in the local retail energy market. And they rely predominantly on coal and natural gas.

"However, when you look at going forward, these energy providers, plus a host of new providers in both electric power generation and biofuels, will soon make a much bigger impact on our regional economy, as well as exploring new commercial uses for renewable fuel sources," Wenstrand said.

There is one player that is making energy from an unexpected source, Wenstrand said.

"Waste Management (in Jackson County) is capturing methane gas from its landfill operation and using the methane as fuel to create 8 megawatts of electric power," he said. In turn, that electricity is used to power the big Green Circle Bio Energy wood pellet plant, also located in Jackson County.

The $100 million-plus Green Circle Bio Energy Inc. plant near Cottondale, which began operations earlier this year, is run by the JE Group Company of Sweden. It takes pine trees from Florida, Alabama and Georgia and turns them into bite-sized wood "pellets" at the rate of about 600 tons a day. Completely uniform in shape, texture and moisture content, these little gems are being freighted overseas from Panama City to Holland and Belgium to help reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions of coal-fired plants.

According to the Jackson County Development Council, Green Circle employs more than 50 people, most of whom live nearby, and will buy 1.5 million tons of lumber annually, generating some $30 million in revenue for regional timber industries.

Still, it will take time to convert the current renewable-energy efforts into major economic engines.

"There is small-scale biodiesel manufacturing, there are some small special-interest groups and individuals who are doing vegetable oil waste from restaurants and things like that, on a very small scale," Cartes said.

Wenstrand added that there are even alternatives to the alternatives.

"We have evaluated other feedstocks, such as yellow grease from restaurants, soy beans, corn and solid municipal waste, but there is just not a large enough supply in Northwest Florida to sustain the industry," he said. "These feedstocks would need to be imported from other areas of the U.S. or abroad if this is the direction the renewable-energy industry would take in Northwest Florida."


Power from Trees

Perhaps the biggest opportunity lies not in vegetable oil or even solar, but in "biomass" — material such as timber. That’s something the Florida Panhandle has in spades. With its 600,000-acre holdings, the private St. Joe Company still owns perhaps the largest chunk of timberland between Tallahassee and Pensacola. But the potential goes beyond the Florida border. According to Biomass magazine, there are 32 million acres of pine forest in the southeastern United States.

"Think about alternate energy for North Florida. Some say we are the Saudi Arabia of biomass," said Steve Urse, a member of Tallahassee’s Big Bend Climate Action Team and a board member of Sustainable Tallahassee. Both groups are advocates of renewable energy.

"The region’s short-term focus is on timber and woody biomass," Wenstrand said. "There’s tremendous biomass. It’s our basic renewable resource. We’ve analyzed others, but what we can immediately produce is woody biomass."

Essentially, "biomass" is wood waste in all its various natural and industrial forms. The waste is converted into a clean, synthetic form of natural gas that is then used to generate electricity.

Tallahassee tried to put a biomass plant near to the FSU campus at Innovation Park, but those efforts failed because of a backlash from the community. That plant, proposed by Biomass Gas & Electric (BG&E) of Georgia, was shut down before it could even be built when controversy erupted over its location and pollution concerns. After fruitlessly trying to win community support for what the company considered a "green" industry, BG&E pulled the plug on the project and moved on to other, more business-friendly opportunities.

"We were never denied the ability to go into Tallahassee," said Keith McDermott, a company spokesman. "We could have built a project there. It came down to the fact that there was a lot of misinformation out there. At the end of the day, we had so many additional towns offering us a place and welcoming us with open arms. Why not go where we’re going to be welcome?"

The loss of 25–30 high-paying jobs is now Port St. Joe’s gain. That’s where BG&E plans to put the 47-megawatt plant, near the city’s water treatment plant, in an area McDermott said was accustomed to industrial usage. Progress Energy will buy the power generated at the plant, he said.

The plant — called the Northwest Florida Renewable Energy Center — will feature the "most advanced known gasification technology" and will be a "carbon-neutral" project. Port St. Joe was picked for its "welcoming spirit of business development," as well as its strategic geographical location.

"It’s a great opportunity, a great step forward for the folks in Gulf County and for us too," McDermott said. "We couldn’t have found a more perfect situation, and we looked — many different municipalities came to us, after Tallahassee. It was something that could have been beneficial to Tallahassee on so many levels, but we couldn’t be more pleased with Port St. Joe and Gulf County."

Florida State’s Dave Cartes said losing the plant to another city was a letdown. "FSU was a big proponent of putting a biomass plant here — but now FSU is re-evaluating its position on doing joint projects," he said.

Other supporters of the economic boost were just as disappointed over losing the plant.

"Biomass was one opportunity (for Tallahassee), but it didn’t get off on the right foot because it was the victim of a misinformation campaign," said Beth Kirkland, executive director of the Economic Development Council of Tallahassee/Leon County. "For this region to capitalize on anything like that, there is going to have to be a change of mindset."

"You have some environmentalists who lump everything involving biomass into ‘incinerators’ — including plasma arc technology," said Urse of the Big Bend Climate Action group, which supported the project. (A plasma arc is a high-energy electrical arc that, depending on its temperature, can vaporize both inorganic and organic waste.) "The perception is that biomass plants emit toxins harmful to health … so a lot of people were saying right plant, wrong location. There were 25 jobs at stake. It was an opportunity to make continual improvements (in the system). But the concern was that too many undesirable land uses were happening on the south side (of Tallahassee)."

McDermott refutes the notion that the plant is "undesirable."

"(We’ve met with) the leaders of Port St. Joe and Gulf County to let them know it’s safe. You’re not going to hear it or smell it," he said. "If you want to go and see it, you can, but it’s set far enough away from residential neighborhoods that it’s not going to be an eyesore."

Biomass Gas & Electric isn’t the only player emerging in the woody biomass energy field, according to Wenstrand. The U.S. Air Force burns 70,000 acres every year to manage the woodlands around Eglin Air Force Base, and the government is now evaluating a 20-megawatt electric-power generation system that could use that timber for fuel.


Nuclear Ambitions

If we’re ever going to gain energy independence and security, some say we may have to rely more on nuclear energy.

"I’m pro-nuclear, and I’m pro-drilling — and I’m green," said FSU’s Cartes. "I know our future, and our future is going to necessitate exploring every opportunity for energy that we can. The green people need to start saying nuclear is going to happen, drilling is going to become necessary, so why don’t we green people take charge of making it happen before people who don’t agree with us take charge."

The fact that an academic leader in the "green" energy movement would dare suggest such a thing is proof that Florida’s attempts to move toward a "sustainable" energy source are staggered by time, policy direction, leadership, money, practicality and economy.

"(Nuclear) does need to be part of the debate and part of the portfolio mix being considered," agreed Wenstrand. "Every one of today’s power resources has pluses and minuses. Nuclear is no different and should be part of the debate."

Speaking of pros and cons, "we don’t want to tap the (natural gas deposits) off the coast of Florida, but like it or not, we’re eventually going to have to do it," Cartes said. "We’re going to need natural gas. Ask yourself, ‘Do I want my grandchildren’s grandchildren to have the same satisfaction from energy that I get today?’ If the answer is yes, then we need to be evaluating every possibility and hoping that one or two of them is successful to meet the energy needs."

Nuclear power may not be what most "green" people think when talking about renewables, but Cartes said it’s a proven job maker. He cites the city of Dothan, Ala., as an example. He grew up there and said the town had nothing going for it until the Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Plant was built east of town on the Chattahoochee River.

"When I grew up … it was a train-stop town," he said. "Four different tracks came into Dothan, but other than that there was nothing there. Then they built the plant … and (Dothan) became one of the fastest-growing cities in the Southeast because of a more educated work force. It added 400 to 500 jobs in the nuclear industry, plus 10 times that many in the service fields. Dothan is quite the success story."

Currently, there are three nuclear power plant sites in Florida — in Crystal River, Miami and Fort Pierce. At least four more reactors — two at Turkey Point south of Miami and two in Levy County — are in the permitting stage. In August, the Florida Cabinet approved Progress Energy’s site request for the Levy Nuclear Plant, which will be the first nuclear facility approved in Florida since 1976.

"I applaud Progress Energy Florida for its commitment to producing alternative energy options," said Gov. Charlie Crist.

Nuclear power plants might give environmentalists jitters, but Cartes said they could make a big difference in the local economy.

"Go to Crystal River, go to Turkey Point, look at the economies around those nuclear power plants," Cartes said. "The question I wonder is, why doesn’t every county in the state of Florida want a nuclear power plant if they really knew the economic impact? With solar plants, you create jobs for solar when you install them, but then they’re ‘build and forget’ kind of things. They don’t keep an economy there."

Pete Rosen, founder of ProSolar Systems of Tallahassee, an up-and-coming player in commercial and residential solar energy, thinks there is a distaste for the byproducts of nuclear energy, but he doesn’t personally have a problem with it.

"There are going to be nuclear power plants; it’s part of a broad energy sourcing," he said.

However, even with 10 of these plants online, that may still not fill our energy needs out to 2050, he said. It’s only half of what we need.

"If our population growth (in Florida) returns to 1,000 people moving here every day, what it was before the recession, by 2050 we’ll need between 24 and 32 nuclear power plants," Cartes said.

That number is "based on meeting energy efficiency and conservation targets," he added. "So if we can meet our targets of efficiency and conservation, then it’s 24. If we can’t figure out how to get efficiency and conservation built into our grid, it’s 32. It’s also based on ‘clean coal’ technology. So there are three determinants of whether you go 24 or 32: whether we can get ‘clean coal’ and meet our efficiency and conservation targets."

Coal, said Rosen, is always going to be around.

"And it’s going to be there for a long time," he said. "It needs to be more expensive, because if it’s more expensive it promotes alternate sources. The thing about ‘clean coal’ is you basically have to take the same amount of coal just to clean the emissions to make it clean. So it takes twice as much energy to produce the same amount of electricity using coal to make it clean coal."


Going Solar in the Panhandle

Solar power — that renewable energy obtained through the harvest and husbandry of photons — haunted the subculture of alternative energy for decades. But today, it’s a different story.

Solar is hitting a critical mass, said one man who makes a living promoting and selling solar energy.

"The market has changed dramatically (in the past few months)," said Thomas Knighten, of Standard Renewable Energy, a Houston-based solar company with a Florida office in Miramar Beach. "It’s what I refer to as awakening the sleeping giant of environmentalism in Northwest Florida. Until now this state has been behind other, more progressive states like Colorado and California. We’re about two or three years behind them in this respect."

Solar panel technology hasn’t changed all that much in 30 years — but Knighten said cost was always the obstacle for the average consumer. Today, the incentives for homeowners and businesses have increased greatly. Both the federal and state government will reimburse those who make the leap, and more people are beginning to take advantage. Knighten said in June that South Walton County was expecting to bring in $14 million in solar rebate money from the state.

"There is no better time to do it than now," said Rosen of ProSolar. "The rebates from the state are actually some of the largest in the country, at $4 a watt. California is down to about $2 a watt at this point, and the reason they’ve come down is because the cost of solar panels has come down — so there is less incentive required."

Rosen said that Tallahassee, with its high utility rates, is a great place to invest in solar energy. Recognizing this, the city offers loans of up to $50,000 for businesses and $20,000 for homes to install solar. Combine that with the federal and state rebates, and it’s very attractive.

"If you bought a $100,000 system, you’d get a check from the federal Treasury 60 days later for $30,000, which absorbs a good percentage of the cost of your system," Rosen said. "Also, the state has a rebate program based on the size of your solar array, at $4 per watt. That money is not guaranteed, though, and that’s a crucial component. There is, however, a high likelihood that you will get it, because they increased funding for that program in this tight fiscal year from $5 million to $15 million."

However, we’re talking about reimbursing investors.

"There is a need for up-front funding, because the federal money comes in 60 to 90 days, which a lot of the suppliers and contractors will be willing to wait for, but the state rebate money takes up to a year to get," Rosen said.

While most agree that there is definitely a place at the table for solar power, there are differing opinions on how big a part of the energy mix it should be. Cartes describes it as "not a consistent source" that we can put all our hopes in.

"Solar is good or bad depending on weather conditions … we don’t have sufficient energy storage to make solar into a base load at any case, so solar is a mixed bag," he said. "We’re just saddled with being one of the rainiest parts of the country. Solar just doesn’t cut it here. South Florida has the potential for solar."

But Knighten, of Standard Renewable Energy, dismisses the notion that Northwest Florida suffers from a lack of sunshine.

"It’s a myth," he said. "We are 8.5 in terms of sunshine, the amount of watts per square meter per day hitting the Earth and collected by panels. There is a metric you can use —

I can point a meter to gauge it and show you 1,000 watts hitting the ground where I’m standing. We have a lot of solar energy here in the Panhandle, and the only area that has more is the southwest United States, places like Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico."

Still, Cartes said we shouldn’t overlook conservation and efficiency.

"With positive gains in efficiency and conservation in both transmission and distribution efficiency, building conservation and automated conservation like demand-side management and building automation, these are places where we can really get the most bang for our buck in the Big Bend area," he said. "Solar can certainly come in. But if I were to pick somewhere (among biomass, solar, energy efficiency and conservation), I would say energy efficiency and conservation are probably where we’re going to get our best return."



Florida isn’t known for its deep pockets of magma, and yet Gulf Power Company — one of the region’s biggest traditional energy providers — is promoting it as a way to save power and money.

"Geothermal HVAC doesn’t need any more development," said Keith Swilley, Gulf Power marketing manager in Pensacola. "It’s cost-effective and efficient."

Geothermal in Florida isn’t like it is in Iceland, where deep pockets of heat are tapped to provide electrical power.

"It’s groundwater heat exchange," Cartes explained. "People in Florida colloquially call it ‘geothermal,’ but true geothermal is 1,000 to 1,500 feet down. (Our form of) geothermal is 70 feet down, where the water is 70 degrees in this part of the state. Technically, it’s groundwater heat exchange."

The geothermal heat pump technology sold in Florida is a closed series of underground loops or pipes. Once installed, it hardly needs maintenance, and the Earth itself acts as a solar collector. Geothermal systems also use half the refrigerant required by conventional HVAC, Swilley explained. They have smaller electrical requirements, and there is no requirement for outdoor equipment.

"We promote it because we want to promote the efficient use of electricity, to reduce peak demand and to show customers how to save money — and that makes them happy," Swilley said. "You have two ways to improve your bill: cut back or improve efficiency."

As with solar and solar thermal, geothermal has its own incentives and tax credits. But know what you’re buying, Swilley cautioned. At around $15,000, a geothermal closed loop is expensive compared to a conventional HVAC system, which costs around $7,500. But with a 30 percent federal tax credit, and a Gulf Power rebate of $400 per ton, he told those gathered at an energy conference earlier this year that the net cost difference can be about $1,800.

"Right now is a good time to do this," Swilley said. "This has been done all over our area. Across the board, there’s almost a 35 percent to 40 percent overall average geothermal savings potential. While the initial cost is bigger, you’ll see these reductions in your bill."


The (Green) Crystal Ball

A recent Pew report indicated that jobs in Florida’s green economy grew nearly 8 percent between 1998 and 2007 — but FSU’s Cartes is not impressed. That’s less than

1 percent of growth a year.

"If I have $100, and I’m getting one dollar from clean energy, and the next year I get $1.07, it’s still not significant to the overall economy," he said. "So this ‘clean energy economy growing by 8 percent’ over 10 years gives you an annualized growth rate of somewhere less than 1 percent. Our economy is growing at 2.5 percent, so to me, I say we’re losing ground.

"We’re not growing at the rate the overall economy is growing," Cartes said. "That’s the sad state of nearsighted policy. Clean energy jobs are higher-paying … what we’d call high-quality jobs. And whether you believe in clean energy or global warming, any money-multiplying effect in this state that leads to high-quality jobs is good."

But he added that it’s going to take consistent political policy to make those jobs come through. And instead of a "renewable-energy portfolio standard" talked about in governmental circles, what we may have to settle for is a "sustainable energy portfolio standard"— one that includes the unpopular nuclear option.

"Nuclear is not clean, but I don’t think we can call any energy technology clean, to be honest with you," Cartes said. "They’re all dirty, and they need to be managed so that the impacts (are less)."

But that’s all a part of the sector’s growing pains, said Wenstrand of Florida’s Great Northwest.

"It is going to be interesting to see how this industry plays out in the next few years," he said. "Energy has always been a commodity, and if you look at the early entrants to the renewable-energy market such as corn-based ethanol, the facilities had to produce extremely large quantities of the product in order to be profitable, or just to break even."

That’s the reason the development of this industry has slowed down in Northwest Florida in the first part of 2009. The facilities needed to meet production goals require a great deal of investment money, and that’s just not available in this economy.

"However, there are some smaller prototype plants coming on the market that appear to be financially acceptable, especially in the biodiesel area, for operating a fuel source for captive fleets of vehicles," Wenstrand said. "For example, school buses, mass transit bus lines or local delivery vehicles that can be fueled daily from a single source."

Meanwhile, Knighten said his phone rings off the hook from callers interested in solar power. He predicts a surge in the development of renewables, such as solar, in the upcoming years.

"I am getting overwhelmed by calls right now … people are doing their research to fight back against utility rates," he said. "There’s a tsunami of renewable energy about to happen in Northwest Florida. Northwest Florida is what we refer to as an undeveloped market … the people who are doing it are on the leading edge, and I compliment them for their foresight and conviction."

But in other areas of renewable energy, there is no escape from the need to make it profitable. The real-world applications of academic research and development are slow in coming, according to Wenstrand, because of the global recession, the tight financial options and the lower cost of oil that has "dropped the margin" on the profitability of renewable fuels.

"Right now, there is a period of trepidation in entering the market," he said. "Margins in the United States are tight … and the uncertainty associated with the state renewable energy portfolios and Congress and the Obama administration’s energy policy, cap and trade legislation, and what is in the stimulus package for renewable energy has most of the businesses in a wait-and-see mode."

Three Guys and an Electric Dream


Eco-friendly, alternative energy transit arrives on FSU’s campus

We’ve all been there. A wee bit tipsy from hitting the clubs all night, now you’re trying to safely cross Tennessee Street for home.

Suddenly an electric-powered, six-seat, open-air, golf cart-looking vehicle glides up to you. The 22-year-old at the helm waves you over and offers you a lift — for free. You get in, and the first thing you notice is this "golf cart" has seatbelts. And liquid crystal display screens alternately playing music videos and Fandango ads. You give the driver your address (or where you think you left your car), and within moments you’re being safely whisked along at 12 miles an hour across campus to your apartment a mile away.

See you later, and thanks for riding with the Gotcha Group.

Gotcha (Green Operated Transit Carrying Humanity Around) is the brainchild of three buddies from Atlanta — Sean Flood, president; Drew Sfugaras, vice president, and Chris Murphy, director of operations. All three come from varied backgrounds; Flood and Sfugaras graduated from FSU with business management and advertising degrees and Murphy comes from the hospitality industry. They work for separate companies in Atlanta, but last year came up with a bold plan to hitch their wagon to the "green movement" star. Their business plan was simple: Provide an eco-friendly alternative energy transit system to college campuses.

"It didn’t make sense because people in Atlanta — just like a lot of major cities — still don’t live where they go out, and buses and taxis still service that niche of longer-distance travel," said Flood, 30. But a college campus is another thing, he said. Smaller area, and students today are much more environmentally sensitive.

"Geographically, it makes a lot of sense, because college students and faculty, learn and play in a very close proximity and don’t go more than four or five miles away from campus. And that works very well for electric vehicle transportation," Flood said. "We’re trying to create a company that isn’t green just for show; we want to educate (riders) about other things they can do in their lives to be more green."

The green transportation in question comes in the form of a NEV, short for Neighborhood Electric Vehicle. NEV’s may resemble a golf cart, but they have more car-like features like seat belts, comfy seats and a beefed-up chassis that makes them road-legal. They can go up to 25 miles an hour, although for Gotcha’s purposes they’ll operate in the safer, 12-mile-an-hour range. The NEVs are manufactured by a division of Chrysler. And, being battery-powered, they have to be recharged every two hours or so. Gotcha will have an office garage to service its fleet (six to start, 10–20 is their ideal fleet size), but they’re also hoping arrangements can be made with local businesses to provide "refilling" points along the way. The vehicles are perfect for their market niche — people needing transportation within a four or five mile radius.

Flood said Gotcha will provide a free service for riders. He said advertising revenue will offset the cost.

"We’re going to ‘brand’ these vehicles," he said. "We’ll also have LCD displays in the vehicles that are interactive, playing messages from the brand, or it could be music videos or movie trailers."

The Gotcha Group will first pursue a business plan involving Florida State University but may, if all goes well, expand to other college campuses in not only Tallahassee but Florida and the Southeast.

The company will initially start out with a fleet of six vehicles and 35 employees but as the fleet gets bigger, so will the staff. "We feel like we are going to be a pretty large employer," Flood said. "We’ll have quite a large number of employees." — Jason Dehart


Alternative Energy Glossary

Biomass Biomass includes not only any natural vegetative material (wood, food crops and grass clippings), but other forms such as, the organic component of industrial and municipal waste and methane produced as off-gassing from landfills. Biomass materials can be used to generate electricity.

Cap and Trade A plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Cap-and-Trade places limits on the emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) from factories or other emitters. Cap-and-Trade allows companies that can’t reduce their emissions efficiently to buy or trade surplus credits from companies that can. This form of trade is then taxed by the feds.

Carbon Credit Carbon "credits" are awarded to countries or businesses that have taken steps to reduce their greenhouse gases below a certain emission quota. Carbon credits can be traded in the international market. One carbon credit equals one ton of carbon.

Carbon Footprint The amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused directly or indirectly by a person, organization or event.

Carbon Offsets A tool used to "mitigate" carbon emissions, usually by lending monetary support to alternative power or other "green" projects.

Demand-side Management (DSM) program According to the Department of Energy, Demand Side Management refers to the actions that an energy consumer can take to change or reduce their energy consumption. For an electrical utility the goal of promoting DSM is to avoid or postpone building new power plants. (

Ethanol Also known as ethyl alcohol, ethanol is a colorless liquid most often called "grain alcohol" or simply "alcohol." The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ "Farm to Fuel" program is actively engaged in promoting renewable fuels such as ethanol.

Feed-In Tariffs/Renewable Energy Dividends Pioneered in Europe, FIT/REDs are beginning to catch on in America. Feed-In Tariff legislation is designed to promote the use of energy produced through renewable sources such as sunlight/solar. Although Americans might balk at the term "tariff," it actually means "rate" in Europe. So in other words, producers of renewable energy (such as your neighbor with solar panels on his roof) who "feed" the power grid with their own power get paid a certain rate for that power. In North America, the name "Feed-In Tariff" is known as "Renewable Energy Dividends" or "Renewable Energy Payments." The city of Gainesville is currently the only city in Florida to have established a RED program.

Greenhouse Gas An atmospheric gas that contributes to the "greenhouse effect." In the Earth’s atmosphere, GHGs are composed of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and chlorofluorocarbons.

Greenhouse Effect The conventional definition says the "greenhouse effect" is an increase in temperature caused when excess carbon dioxide traps solar radiation within the Earth’s atmosphere.

Net Metering Net metering allows utility customers who produce their own power to be compensated, usually in the form of lower electric bills. Customers only pay for their net consumption — resources used minus the amount of resources generated.

Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards According to the Florida Public Service Commission, an RPS rule would require each investor-owned electric utility to supply a percentage of retail electricity sales from renewable energy resources in Florida. The FPSC recommends an aggressive RPS that requires each IOU to achieve 20 percent renewable energy by 2020.