Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam opened the Florida Energy Summit today with a call for Florida legislators to cut taxes on consumers and businesses by $250 million. The two-day conference in Orlando brings together energy industry, academic and government leaders to assess the state’s energy future.
“We are in the early stages of an energy revolution,” Putnam told the audience, “with profound potential for our state and nation.”
Putnam called on the group to capitalize on available opportunities, using a reflective strategic approach and employing an “all-of-the-above approach” to energy policy.
Government must not pick winners and losers, the commissioner added, letting the free market decide what works and what doesn’t. Putnam also challenged the Legislature to make significant reductions in energy taxes in the next session.
“I’m proposing that we cut the sales tax Florida businesses pay for electricity in half over the next three years,” Putnam said. “Ultimately, this tax cut will save Florida businesses approximately $250 million every year … money they can use to grow their business … money they can use to create jobs.”
Putnam also proposed the state launch a Clean Energy Research & Development Match Fund. It would be an investment in innovation not subsidized with new capital, but from money redirected from the 2006 Renewable Energy and Energy-Efficient Technologies (REET) Grant Program.
Much of the Match Fund was never expended, according to Putnam, because some of the original grant projects were never completed, or funds were returned because projects did not meet goals.
“So we’re going to make sure that these taxpayer dollars go to good use,” Putnam said. “We’re going to invest this money back into Florida’s energy future. The Clean Energy R&D Match Fund will level the playing field for Florida innovators and entrepreneurs to compete for federal and private grants.”
Putnam also suggested a sales tax holiday weekend on the purchase of Energy Star appliances. He added that it would not only save consumers money on purchases and utility bills, but it will also help the state conserve “precious energy and water resources.”
The Florida Energy Summit continues through October 15 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando.