Florida is America’s official “Sunshine State.” But when it comes to solar power, it ranks pretty low on the list:

  • Florida doesn’t have very many incentives to help homeowners and businesses finance photovoltaic (PV) installations.
  • The state doesn’t have a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requiring utilities to generate a certain portion of their electricity from clean power sources.

But none of this has stopped the city of St. Petersburg from joining San Diego’s 100% green pledge.

In late November, St. Petersburg’s city council agreed to phase out fossil fuel in favor of cleaner power sources like solar, biomass, and wind energy.

And in doing so, St. Petersburg has become the first city in Florida and the 20th city in the nation to make such a commitment.

Why Did St. Petersburg Sign on to the 100% Green Pledge?

There are actually several reasons why St. Petersburg, San Diego, and so many other cities continue to establish strict renewable energy targets. However, the 2 biggest motivations are cost and climate.

Renewable energy used to be obscenely expensive. And only the wealthiest could afford to invest in technologies like solar. But in recent years, this has changed – largely thanks to economies of scale, supportive green policies, and increased innovation.

Now, anyone can afford to install solar panels – even those on limited budgets. And at the municipal level, it makes more sense to invest in scalable technologies like solar and wind than it does to finance coal-burning power plants.

The economics of clean energy are impossible to ignore.

No less important, however, are growing concerns about climate change. The environment is in crisis, and continued burning of fossil fuel is largely to blame. So even if Florida decides to do nothing, that shouldn’t stop individual cities like St. Petersburg from getting involved.

According to Emily Gorman, campaign manager for the “100% St. Pete” movement,

“We envision a city where families can raise their kids in communities free from toxic pollution, where everyone has the opportunity for a good job and access to healthy, affordable energy. The transition to 100% clean, renewable energy will ensure a more resilient, sustainable, and equitable future for all our residents.”

In a perfect world, politicians at the state and federal levels would help lead America’s transition to a cleaner and greener economy. But when such leadership is absent, it’s nice to know that local actors can take the reins and do what is right.

Congratulations St. Petersburg. We’d like to welcome you to the 100% green pledge club.