Legalizing Power Purchase Agreements would increase access, boost economy
Florida could support more than 25,000 construction jobs and spur nearly $4 billion in economic investment by reducing regulatory hurdles to enable power purchase agreements (PPAs), according to a new report. PPAs make it easier for businesses, governments, and nonprofits to benefit from solar energy. Researchers from the University of Central Florida and Ohio University partnered to conduct the study, supported by Solar United Neighbors, titled Impact Analysis of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) in Florida.
Power Purchase Agreements allow a developer to install, own and operate a solar energy system on a customer’s property. The customer purchases the system’s electric output at a fixed rate. This is generally at a lower rate than what they pay to their utility. The PPA contract lasts for a fixed period, usually 15–25 years.
“Our models showed that legalizing PPAs would create numerous employment opportunities and drastically reduce air pollution by generating millions of MWh of local electricity,” said Dr. Gilbert Michaud, Assistant Professor at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and co-author of the report. “Our first step was to determine how much solar energy could feasibly be deployed in Florida if PPAs were legalized. We developed three potential growth scenarios, and then calculated both the economic and environmental impacts, at the state level, given our projections.”
PPAs are permitted in most states, but are currently restricted by legal barriers in Florida. The legislature would need to pass a bill to enable this financing option. Alternatively, they could be authorized via a ballot initiative.
“Going solar helps people and communities save money by taking control of where their electricity comes from,” said Heaven Campbell, Associate Program Director with Solar United Neighbors. “Making PPAs legal is a no-cost way to bring more solar to the sunshine state.”
PPAs let schools, places of worship, and other nonprofits benefit from solar with low to no upfront cost. This stabilizes monthly budget expenditures and protects PPA customers from utility rate increases.
The report includes case studies to show the specific benefits of allowing PPAs in Florida. For instance, solar PPAs could save the City of Orlando more than $400,000 per year in electricity costs, and would help the city get closer to meeting clean energy targets.
“We reviewed the pros and cons of what solar PPAs could do for three distinct case studies in Florida – the City of Orlando, Osceola School District and First Unitarian Church of Orlando,” said Dr. Kelly A. Stevens, Assistant Professor at University of Central Florida and co-author of the report. “These three cases present a range of potential solar capacity sized projects we believe other organizations can relate to. We see the benefits outweighing the cons and leading to significant electricity savings for each organization as a result of a third-party PPA with zero up-front costs.”
The report also looks at the impact legalizing PPAs could have on individual nonprofit organizations. The First Unitarian Church of Orlando could save more than $2,000 per year, at no upfront cost, if they were able to install solar through a PPA.
“Our faith, like many, calls on us to care for the environment, said Mary Dipboye, President, First Unitarian Church of Orlando. “We want to do so by installing solar on our campus buildings. PPAs would offer us a pathway to do that.”
About Solar United Neighbors
Solar United Neighbors helps people go solar, join together, and fight for their energy rights. We start solar co-ops, fight for pro-solar policies, and help ensure regular people share in the benefits of rooftop solar. We are a national nonprofit dedicated to protecting the rights of solar owners, and making sure rooftop solar is a cornerstone of our energy system.
About the School of Public Administration and RISES at UCF
UCF’s School of Public Administration (SPA) provides undergraduate and graduate programs in public administration, emergency management, public policy, nonprofit management, urban and regional planning, research administration and an interdisciplinary doctoral program in public affairs. SPA offers two top five graduate programs and is ranked as one of the top 40 public administration schools in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report. UCF’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Management (CPNM), housed within SPA, supports collaborative partnerships for more than 25 faculty members, postdoctoral scholars, students, and community members to improve the understanding and practice of public and nonprofit management through research, teaching, and service. For more information, visit https://ccie.ucf.edu/public-administration.
UCF’s Resilient, Intelligent and Sustainable Energy Systems Cluster, or RISES, works to develop sustainable and resilient energy systems and storage to make sure we have power and stay connected when disasters strike. For additional information, visit http://rises.ece.ucf.edu.
About Ohio University’s Voinovich School
Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs is nationally recognized for its public service leadership in state, regional, federal and business partnerships to provide innovative solutions to economic, environmental and social challenges, making a difference in the lives of the citizens in Appalachia and the state of Ohio. By blending real-world problem solving with education, students are offered unique learning opportunities as they prepare for or enhance their careers serving the public interest. For additional information, visit www.ohio.edu/voinovich-school.