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Florida misses out on millions of dollars in federal energy rebate programs

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a grant for $5 million for energy programs from the Inflation Reduction Act.
Posted at 7:50 PM, Aug 16, 2023

TAMPA, Fla. — The Biden-Harris administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) allocated nearly $9 billion to states for home energy rebate programs to help families make homes more energy efficient and cut energy costs.

The IRA allotted Florida $346 million for the two separate energy rebate programs: $174 million in rebates for energy-efficiency improvements and $173 million for rebates to purchase energy-efficient home appliances.

But Gov. Ron DeSantis's final veto list for 2023 shows he vetoed a grant for $5 million from the IRA for energy programs.

In a letter to DeSantis at the end of July, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor wrote:

“Floridians already are reeling from exorbitant electric bills and the most expensive property insurance rates in the country. Now, Florida families and small businesses are being pickpocketed because you’ve elevated your political interests over the people’s interest. It’s wrong, and I urge you to reverse course now.”

ABC Action News spoke with USF professors from the Patel College of Global Sustainability to get their input.

“It's really an act which has advanced enormously U.S. efforts to be part of the solution to global climate change, and that is done in a new and innovative way,” said Professor David O’Connor, who worked for many years at the United Nations and was responsible for the negotiation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“We're stymied by a lack of initiative and are stymied now by this veto which is denying us the $346 million in support for vulnerable businesses and families and institutions that want to do the right thing. We don't have time for this delay,” added Professor T.H. Culhane, director of USF’s climate mitigation and adaptation program.

However, DeSantis has other programs, such as the tax holiday for ENERGY STAR appliances.

It includes washing machines, clothes dryers, and water heaters for up to $1500 and refrigerators for up to $4,500.

We spoke with an employee at a Tampa Nay appliance store who said the savings could be substantial on a $3,000 appliance, but customers often have to go for the cheapest used option over the most energy-efficient appliance.

The professors add that residents and businesses need more incentives, and the numbers show it can be cheaper.

“Renewable energy has actually become far more affordable and pretty much competitive in many contexts with cheap fossil fuel energy, and indeed, that's without subsidies even,” O’Connor said.

The IRA also provides manufacturers subsidies for building electric vehicles (EVS) and renewable energy products, and utilities get credits for choosing solar and wind energy over fossil fuel plants.

It also allotted $80 billion in financial rebates for millions of households to adopt clean energy products such as electric vehicles, solar panels, and more efficient heat pumps.

We contacted DeSantis’ office for comment but did not receive an immediate response.