This proposed rule comes out of a long court battle in which dozens of young people claim Florida violates their constitutional rights by continuing its support for fossil fuels that cause climate change.
Nikki Fried, the Agriculture Commissioner, announced the rule after young people representing the nonprofit Our Children's Trust filed a petition asking for the proposal.
Although the rule is not final, it could be challenged. However, Fried stated that it was a "major first step" to curb climate-altering greenhouse gasses that are released by utilities as they burn coal and natural gases.
Fried stated that "This is one the most pressing issues of our times." Fried spoke at a Miami news conference. "
According to the proposal, utilities in Florida will first need to achieve three interim goals regarding energy. In 2050, 100% renewable energy would be available for utilities. Experts in energy agree that interim goals are necessary so that major changes do not delay.
Only 5% of Florida's electricity was generated by solar sources in 2020, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. This is compared to 75% produced by natural gas which is mostly methane.
More than 200 young people signed the rule petition, including Delaney Reynolds, 22, who said that it was a first step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
Reynolds stated that Florida can immediately address the root causes of climate change. "
Florida Power & Light is the state's largest electric utility. NextEra Energy Inc. was its parent. Florida has been climbing up the national rankings in installed solar.
"As Florida’s leading renewable energy provider and leader in the country's largest solar expansion," said the FPL statement.
A large utility, Duke Energy, stated in an email that it is still reviewing the rule, but noted that it plans to have no coal fired power plants by 2035. The company also said it has a goal to achieve zero carbon emissions from electric generators by 2050.
Fried's Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services houses the state energy office. The agency will receive public comments on the rule for 21 days. A hearing is possible.
The agency does not have a mechanism to enforce the rule once it is in effect. The Florida Public Service Commission would take regulatory action to implement the rule.
Valholly, a member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida aged 19, said that their traditional home, the Big Cypress Reservation, is facing extreme climate change threats.
Frank stated, "Florida's culture is dependent on this land." We can no longer continue to live like this. "