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Florida Needs a Stable, Reliable and Diverse Supply of Energy

August 14, 2012 - 6:00pm

Over the last century, the landscape of the energy industry has changed dramatically.

America was once a nation that relied on coal for most of our energy needs, but when abundant supplies of oil were discovered in California, Texas and Oklahoma, we shifted to this low-cost, high-density fuel.

With the growth of the automobile industry, however, our dependence on gasoline grew and our domestic supplies dwindled. The United States became increasingly dependent on foreign countries for oil sources.

The government sought to address this energy crisis by creating market distortions to support the latest and greatest technologies. Unfortunately, these policies that were oversold to the American people as solutions have failed to solve Americas energy dependence. In many cases, these policies resulted in millions of taxpayer dollars wasted on dreams that never came true, like Solyndra.

In recent years, new techniques in the production of natural gas changed the U.S. energy landscape yet again. With the introduction of fracking, the shale gas industry grew 45 percent per year between 2005 and 2010.Though we expected to be a major importer of natural gas just a few years ago, the United States is now estimated to have enough natural gas resources to sustain current production for more than a century.

What the shifts in the energy landscape over the last century and even the most recent game-changer prove, is that the government cannot be in the business of picking winners and losers. Rather, we must let the market determine what works and what does not. What we need is an all-of-the-above strategy. We must create an environment in which any energy source that is reliable and affordable can thrive.

My objective for Floridas energy policy is to create a stable, reliable and diverse supply of energy. Stability is important to ensuring energy supplies remain affordable for consumers. Reliability is critical in a state that has record amounts of lightning strikes and is susceptible to hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters that jeopardize consistent service. Finally, we must increase diversity in Floridas energy supply to meet our growing energy needs. Only an all-of-the-above approach can help us achieve these three goals.

This week, Ive invited stakeholders in Floridas energy industry to meet in Orlando at the second annual Florida Energy Summit. At the summit, well hear from a former president of Shell Oil Co. about pursuing affordable energy for all consumers and increasing our energy security. Well also hear from representatives of ExxonMobil, Florida utilities, the Public Service Commission, the Florida Energy Systems Consortium and many businesses throughout Florida. More than 500 attendees will gather, including representatives of traditional sources of energy, innovators in renewable sources of energy, academics, entrepreneurs, investors and agricultural producers, to learn about the state of the energy industry in Florida and what to expect next. I look forward to hearing the various perspectives and discussing how we can create a stable, reliable and diverse supply of energy for Florida.

Adam Putnam, a former U.S. congressman, is Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

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