After Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed millions in federal funding, Florida Democrats are voicing concerns over the lack of Florida’s progress in renewable energy development. In response to Governor Ron DeSantis failing to prioritize solar energy in the state’s energy plans, Florida Democrats are now lobbying the U.S. Energy Department to bypass Governor DeSantis and establish a solar program independently.

Previous Chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, slammed DeSantis’ veto for putting hundreds of millions in federal funding out of reach for Floridians. Castor sent a letter to DeSantis after he vetoed programs authorized by last year’s Inflation Reduction Act. 

“Specifically, as a result of your veto, Florida will lose $174 million in rebates for energy-efficiency improvements, $173 million for rebates to purchase energy-efficient home appliances, and $7 million for a training program for electrical contractors — a loss of $354 million to the people of Florida,” Castor wrote. “Floridians will lose a seventy-fold return on investment — money that would have gone directly to their pockets.”

In response to Governor DeSantis’s veto of $346 million in federal rooftop solar incentives, U.S. Representative Darren Soto encouraged the U.S. Energy Department to allow Floridians to participate in the program regardless of the governor’s decision. This move highlights the determination of Democrats to ensure that the allocated federal funding is utilized effectively for the benefit of the state.

And now, the Florida Democratic Party has (FDP) endorsed a letter from Democrats in the Florida congressional delegation encouraging the U.S. Energy Department to establish programs through county and local governments. 

“Floridians are suffering because of Ron’s political games,” said FDP Chair Nikki Fried. “His obsession with the presidency cost Floridians nearly half a billion dollars in federal grant funding — funding that comes straight from our taxes — all in an effort to impress farmers in Iowa. If only he cared about putting money back in the pockets of farmers in Florida.”

Despite Governor DeSantis’s reluctance to implement strong renewable energy policies, this approach aims to ensure that Floridians can still benefit from federal funding for solar initiatives. 

The urgency behind developing renewable energy sources like solar power stems from the global climate crisis which continues to pose a significant threat to our planet. Transitioning towards clean and sustainable energy is crucial in mitigating these effects. Solar energy represents one such solution, as it is abundant, reliable, and emission-free. 

Democrats are working to kick-start the development of solar projects across the state, thereby reducing reliance on fossil fuels and promoting sustainable alternatives. Additionally, the utilization of solar power can help create jobs and promote economic growth. By investing in solar energy, the state can create thousands of jobs in manufacturing, installation, and maintenance sectors. This job creation would help boost employment rates and stimulate economic growth, while also decreasing dependence on other polluting forms of energy.

Bypassing Governor DeSantis could potentially face legal challenges or political backlash. The Republicans, who currently dominate the state government, may view this approach as an overreach of federal authority and obstruct its implementation. Democrats will need to carefully strategize and build bipartisan support for their solar program proposal.

Governor DeSantis’s lack of action on renewable energy contradicts the will of the people. There is clear support among Floridians for increased investment in solar power and other renewable energy sources. While facing potential legal and political obstacles, strategic bipartisan efforts and a focus on the economic benefits of solar power are key to overcoming opposition and achieving a greener future for Florida.