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Tampa Commits To 100% Clean, Renewable Energy By 2035

Solar panels atop of a St. Petersburg residence.
Ken Wrede
Solar panels atop of a St. Petersburg residence.

Tampa's city council voted Thursday in favor of moving the city to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2035, making it the 12th Florida city to do so. This latest passage comes after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed prohibitive energy bills into law this summer.

The resolution by Tampa Councilmember Joseph Citro of District 1 commits to the transition of municipal operations to 100% clean, renewable energy, as well as community-wide transition to 100% clean, renewable electricity in the next 14 years.

It also urges the state of Florida and the federal government to enact and enforce clean policies.

When re-drafting the resolution, which was first introduced nine months ago, council members had to consider Florida's new laws, which stop local governments from taking “any action that restricts or prohibits” energy sources used by utilities, with the exception of municipal-owned utilities. Municipalities are also prohibited from banning gas stations and requiring them to install electric vehicle chargers.

Brooke Errett, with Food and Water Watch, said Tampa's move is something to celebrate.

"Tampa proved today that cities can move on clean energy, despite these bad preemption bills," she said. “Tampa is giving hope to the rest of Florida. And Tampa is also setting the narrative that all levels of government need to be involved.”

The Tampa City Council voted 6-1, with the sole dissenting vote from Councilmember Charlie Miranda of District 2. He put the climate solution on the shoulders of Tampa advocates and residents.

"Don't ask what government can do for you, show me what you have done yourself to solve this problem. And you know what? They haven't done much," he said.

To Brooke Errett, it sounds like Miranda is using the talking points of big utilities and fossil fuel companies, who put the responsibility on the person instead of on the corporate entities.

“The front-line impacted communities that we are pushing this for, most of those people can't afford to weatherize their home. They can't afford to go out and buy an electric vehicle. Many are relying on public transportation, so they need the city and the county to act," she said.

Councilmember Citro, who drafted the resolution, said he wished the vote would’ve been unanimous.

“The true authority on this will be the administration as the executive power. However, we can take steps along the way for approving different things for the budget, making our requests known,” said Citro.

Councilmembers and advocates hope this resolution and future clean actions by the city will catch the attention of representatives in Washington DC, specifically U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor’s office has already committed to moving the city to a 100%, clean, renewable energy future through her Resilient Tampa campaign.

Some parts of Castor’s plan are echoed in Citro’s resolution, like transitioning to a safe pedestrian city, transitioning to hybrid and electric vehicle fleets, and assessing the efficiency of Tampa’s stationary buildings.

Tampa joins Tallahassee, Gainesville, Orlando, Satellite Beach, Dunedin, Largo, Safety Harbor, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Cocoa, and South Miami Beach in committing to a clean future.

Just two days prior to the Tampa council decision, the Florida Public Service Commission approved Tuesday of higher monthly bills through the end of the year for customers of Tampa Electric Co. and Duke Energy Florida to cover unexpected increases in natural-gas prices. This will affect about 2.7 million customers.

Copyright 2021 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Jessica Meszaros is a reporter and host of Morning Edition at WUSF Public Media.