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EGEB: Florida builds largest community solar program in the US

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • The SolarTogether program will develop 1,490MW of solar over the next two years.
  • A former chemical executive put in the EPA by Trump is now tapped to head the CPSC.
  • Red diesel is expected to be scrapped in the UK.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.


It looks like Florida is starting to get serious about harnessing one of its greatest assets for green energy: the sun.

The Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates investor-owned electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater utilities, unanimously approved the Florida Power & Light Co.’s (FPL) SolarTogether program. The new program will provide 1,490MW of solar in 20 new solar plants by mid-2021.

It will be the largest community solar program in the US, more than doubling the amount of community solar in the country. FPL estimates, based on sign-ups for program updates, that more than 150,000 families and small businesses want to join SolarTogether. Community solar also provides an opportunity for low-income households to benefit from green energy.

Dr. Stephen Smith, executive director at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said:

We applaud the Florida Public Service Commission for embracing a new, innovative solar program that will greatly expand access to solar power for customers, including low-income customers, and generate millions of dollars in projected economic benefits.

Open enrollment in SolarTogether begins on March 17 at noon.

Fox guarding the henhouse?

Donald Trump has nominated Nancy B. Beck to head up the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an independent federal agency.

For five years, Beck was a senior director at the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the chemical industry’s main lobbying group. She then joined the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Environmental groups are very concerned about the coziness that now exists between the EPA and the ACC, in which Beck has played a big part.

Environmental groups such as the EWG and the Environmental Defense Fund think Beck’s CPSC nomination is a really bad idea. Ken Cook, president of the EWG, a nonprofit public health advocacy organization, said:

Nancy Beck is the last person who should be in charge of safeguarding the American people from dangerous products.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will consider Beck’s nomination before it goes to the Senate floor for a vote.

You can read the full story here.

UK’s red diesel to end

Red diesel in the UK is the same as ordinary diesel, but it’s dyed red to indicate its tax exemption, which has existed since 1928. Red diesel is used for non-motoring functions such as farming, crane operation, and construction. It makes up around 15% of total diesel use.

The UK’s chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak is expected to scrap the red diesel rebate in his budget statement next week. That means red diesel consumers will have to pay an extra 47 pence on every liter of diesel consumed.

In other words, the UK is going to stop subsidizing this fossil fuel to encourage industry to switch to cleaner technologies. And this approach works: When the UK started heavily taxing tobacco, the number of smokers dropped dramatically. Cigarettes in the UK now cost around $14 a pack.

The end of the red diesel rebate will undoubtedly put a squeeze on the farming and construction industries, so the British government will, in turn, need to provide financial incentives for sustainable alternatives.

Photo: U.S. Senate Committee Channel

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Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.