Elected officials deliver Earth Day letter to Duke Energy demanding clean energy investment

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Tuesday, about 40 members of the Sunshine State Clean Energy Coalition joined public officials across the street from Duke Energy headquarters in downtown St. Petersburg. In honor of Earth Day, 25 Tampa Bay elected officials signed a letter addressed to Duke’s President, Alex Glenn, asking for a commitment to investing in clean energy locally.

“We are asking Duke to join us in a forever business,”City Councilwoman Darden Rice said. “Our way of life is not incompatible with corporate profit.”

The letter arrives ahead of proceedings with the state’s Public Service Commission, which determines Florida’s energy portfolio and guidelines. It asks that Duke invest in solar, thus creating jobs locally, noting that Florida is 16th in the nation for solar installations. Even though the U.S. Energy Information Agency has ranked the state third nationwide for solar potential.

“Even the founders of St. Petersburg bet on our sunshine,” Rice said. “But Duke deduced that the sun shines in Ohio and North Carolina, not Florida. That’s why we are here, asking them to do better.”

City Councilman Karl Nurse commented on Duke Energy’s clean energy investments in their home base, North Carolina. Nurse found rebates and incentives to help customers upgrade existing appliances, but notes those programs aren’t in place in Florida he says.

“Duke Energy needs to make the same effort in Florida as it does in its home state,” Nurse said Tuesday. “Florida should not be treated as the stepchild.”

The letter also asks that Duke decrease fossil fuel reliance and a greater commitment to increasing energy efficiency in the state. And they are asking specifically, for a reduction in coal usage. Congresswoman Kathy Castor signed the letter, along with State Rep. Dwight Dudley, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Largo Mayor Pat Gerard and Pinellas County Commissioners Joh Morroni, Ken Welch, Charlie Justice, among others.

“The bottom line is we are in this together,” Gulfport City Councilwoman Yolanda Roman said. “We will partner with Duke Energy. But you have to partner with us.”