DeSantis accepts nearly $350 million in federal funding for energy efficiency upgrades

Ron DeSantis looking to the left behind a microphone
Charlie Neibergall/AP
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra’s, R-Iowa, Faith and Family with the Feenstras event, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, in Sioux Center, Iowa. DeSantis accepted nearly $350 million to improve residents’ energy efficiency through the Inflation Reduction Act.

Some Florida households will get discounts for efficiency upgrades that are predicted to save at least 20% of the home’s energy use, getting back between $2,000 and $4,000. Plus, low- to moderate-income families could get up to $14,000 for purchasing high-efficiency equipment.

By Jessica Meszaros

In the past few years, Florida has rejected billions in federal funds, but Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday accepted nearly $350 million to improve residents’ energy efficiency through the Inflation Reduction Act.

The initiative helps some low- to moderate-income households get thousands of dollars back for buying energy-efficient appliances or weatherizing their homes.

This funding is part of an $8.8 billion package at the federal level that the Biden administration, through the Inflation Reduction Act, is putting out into states to help families get their energy bills under control.

Last year, DeSantis vetoed the money the legislature had requested to implement the program. Now he has accepted the $346 million in rebates within the state’s $116.5 billion budget for 2024-25.

“I think that the pressures with people’s rising electric bills really set the stage for Florida to accept this money,” said Susan Glickman, a clean energy advocate and vice president of policy and partnerships with the nonprofit CLEO Institute.

The greater Tampa Bay region has some of the highest electric bills in the country, and they go up especially in the hot summer months with air conditioners running constantly to keep homes cool.

Glickman said the high cost of energy in the region is partially due to the state’s reliance on costly fossil fuels to create energy.

“There is great pain around the state of Florida. Up in the Panhandle, Florida Power and Light bought a small utility called Gulf Power … their bills have gone up 64%. In Tampa Electric’s territory over the last three, four years, bills have gone up 63%, and 31% in Duke Energy,” Glickman said.

The announcement of these new rebates come just as Tampa Electric and Duke Energy Florida hold local hearings on rate increases this week.

So, Glickman is happy about the state will now offering rebates for energy efficient appliances and home weatherization.

“This is going to help hard-working Floridians keep some of those energy dollars right here at home,” Glickman said. “This is really going to help people become more efficient, more resilient, to have healthier homes and to lower their energy bills.”

The money is going to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which is where the Florida Energy Office is housed. And that office will be jointly administering two programs: one is Florida’s Whole Home Rebates (HOMES) program, which provides single-family and multifamily households with discounts for efficiency upgrades that are predicted to save at least 20% of the home’s energy use. They can get back between $2,000 and $4,000 per home.

The second program, which is Florida’s Home Electrification and Appliance Rebates (HEAR), is aimed at low- to moderate-income families, giving them up to $14,000 per home for purchasing high-efficiency equipment.

The rebates are not currently available in Florida, but you can monitor this state web page for updates.

The energy sector is the second highest contributor to climate-warming emissions in the nation, after transportation, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

It’s number one in the greater Tampa Bay region, according to a recent report by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.

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