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National Implications of Florida Agriculture Commissioner's Stance on Energy Inequities

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  • Jul 1, 2021

Energy inequality is a very overlooked problem in the United States. In September, a new report by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy showed that 25% of households are paying considerably more for energy than the national average. Geography plays an important role in the economic imbalance. However, there are also socioeconomic challenges that influence energy inequality as well.

Some jurisdictions are taking this concern a lot more seriously. Nikki Fried, The Florida Agricultural Commissioner, announced that Florida would be taking new measures to address growing concerns about energy inequality. Agricultural companies and food manufacturers may also benefit from the proposed initiative, since it will lower costs. Companies that offer food manufacturing erp services are among those that can reduce their cost structures.

Many advocates are likely to laud Fried for her efforts. They may also look towards her approach as a blueprint for other states and large municipalities trying to tackle their own energy inequality problems. This could be very important for both residential and commercial customers.

“Nearly three million Floridians live in poverty, including 20% of Black and 16 percent of Hispanic families. While unemployment benefits and food banks have helped those in need throughout the pandemic, one issue not receiving enough help is high utility costs that disproportionately impact low-income consumers and communities of color,” Fried told reporters.

Fried has requested that researchers submit proposals to her office. The Agricultural Commission will review the proposals from researchers and brainstorm new strategies based on the research that has been submitted.

The Commission has published a 38-page proposal that will try to address energy cost and accessibility concerns. It covers a lot of different factors in its scope. Some of the most important issues outlined in the paper delve into concerns about energy designs and the long-term costs associated with them.

Fried and her colleagues at the Agricultural Commission are asking for proposals that include a variety of important considerations, such as installation costs for new energy infrastructural investments, the quantity of units that need to be installed and any potential incentives that can go along with the new proposals. All of these factors will be used to calculate the potential reduction in energy bills and the long-term return on these infrastructure investments over the lifecycle of the proposed improvements.

However, the engineering specifications are merely initial focus points. The Agricultural Commission is also outlining a number of other requirements in the analysis of all proposals that will be considered. These include:

  • A system for rating the equity of energy accessibility
  • Benchmarking for energy usage and accessibility for multifamily household units
  • Statewide performance analysis for energy requirements outlined in the building code for buildings with multiple families
  • GIS maps of low-income communities distributed around the state
  • impact evaluation of development in building codes pertaining to transportation infrastructure issues


This will obviously be a very detailed project that requires extensive research. However, it will likely prove to be highly beneficial for Florida. If they project proves to be viable, then it could have positive implications for other states considering similar initiatives.

Fried’s proposal follows concerns raised by other stakeholders

Nikki Fried is undertaking an ambitious project to address energy inequalities throughout her state. Although she is one of the first policymakers to embark on such a project, she is certainly not the first to raise energy inequality as a concern. Her recent announcement comes on the heels of concerns brought up by a number of advocacy groups.

The Center for American Progress has talked about energy inequality concerns in Florida and other states. Bianca Majumber and Cathleen Kelly wrote an article for this organization in March. They detailed the importance of preparing Florida for a new energy crisis in the week of growing climate change concerns. They emphasize that the new energy system needs to be fair, cost effective and safe. It must be designed with the needs of low-income Florida residents in mind.

Could the new initiatives prove to be effective?

The new proposal brought forward by the Florida Agricultural Commission is very encouraging. Economically disadvantaged citizens throughout Florida are likely to be pleased to hear about the proposal. They will want to see the positive implications of the new plans pan out.

However, actually implementing a plan that solves energy inequality concerns might end up being a lot easier said than done. The problems causing unequal access to energy throughout the state might vary depending on a variety of different geographic, economic and demographic challenges.

Despite the obstacles the state is facing, it is important to emphasize the encouraging development that has taken place so far. This could be the beginning to a long-term initiative to solve energy inequality in Florida. If it proves to be successful, then it could be replicated in other states as well.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 1, 2021

However, actually implementing a plan that solves energy inequality concerns might end up being a lot easier said than done. The problems causing unequal access to energy throughout the state might vary depending on a variety of different geographic, economic and demographic challenges.

These are such big challenges, that putting the solutions into practice is definitely easier said than done-- and while no one would outwardly say they're against energy equality, they would come out and fight a provision that would have other consequences that might hurt their interests, so it's never a political slam dunk (especially in a state like FL where the influence of the utility lobbying is so great)

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