As a member of Congress, Adam Putnam of Bartow supported and pushed for an “all-of-the-above” approach to U.S. energy policy.
That approach included a major and more aggressive focus on domestic oil production, but it didn’t leave out fully developing alternative energy sources – solar, wind, nuclear, crop-based, etc. – and research into more efficient fuels to power the nation’s vehicles and supply its electricity-generation plants.
Today, as Florida commissioner of agriculture, Putnam is still using the “all-of-the-above” mantra when discussing the energy issue.
“What we need is an ‘all-of the above’ (energy) strategy. We need a strategy that will foster the development of all the options,” Putnam wrote for the first report of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Energy.
All available resources are being developed to meet the energy needs in Florida, according to the report.
“We cannot be in the business of picking winners and losers in the race to explore renewable energy options,” Putnam wrote. “Our strategy must support research and development to explore all the options. Our strategy must rely on the market to determine what works and what does not.”
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, Florida’s total electrical energy consumption is among the highest in the nation, because of the state’s large population. Only California and Texas rank ahead of the Sunshine State.
Florida’s energy office was created on July 1, 1975, by the state Legislature, but after being bounced around to different state agencies, it landed with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on July 1, 2011, just six months after Putnam took office.
So, it should come as no surprise that Putnam’s department is taking the lead in organizing the 2012 Florida Energy Summit (formerly the Florida Farm to Fuel Summit), which will be held Aug. 15-17 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando.
Putnam made the announcement about the energy summit on May 11, following a visit and tour of the Orlando Utilities Commission Stanton Energy Facility, which uses a diverse fuel mix to generate power for its customers.
“The 2012 Florida Energy Summit will build upon the discussions from last year’s summit and provide thoughtful direction about Florida’s energy potential,” the commissioner said. “This year, we’re partnering with the Florida Energy Systems Consortium to feature expertise, research findings and emerging technologies from Florida’s world-class university system. Working together, we can develop and implement strategies to secure a stable, reliable and diverse supply of energy for Florida.”
During its 2012 session, the Florida Legislature passed the state’s first energy policy in four years. Pushed largely by Putnam, Florida’s energy bill reinstates tax credits for investments in renewable energy technologies and production; reduces burdens on businesses by repealing outdated and counterproductive regulations; evaluates energy resources proposed, produced or purchased in Florida and how it will impact present and future capacity; and the new energy law promotes energy efficiency.
New to the energy summit this year will be “a partnership with Florida’s world-class university system to spotlight innovative research efforts throughout the state,” according to an agriculture department news release. The Florida Energy Systems Consortium will reveal the latest emerging technologies — including those involving agriculture and waste products, or “biomass” — which will have an impact on future energy production.
According to the news release, energy summit speakers will discuss the short- and long-term outlook of Florida’s energy industry and how the state’s supply and demand of electrical fuels and technologies have changed dramatically over the past decade.
This summit’s program “will also offer realistic steps Floridians can take now to cut their energy costs and increase their comfort. Homeowners, businesses, local governments and energy producers will have an opportunity to learn and share ideas,” the release states.
For more about the 2012 Florida Energy Summit, visit www.floridaenergysummit.com.