commentary by Bob Moore
On Sanibel, we pride ourselves as leaders on environment, conservation and sustainability. And Sanibel has more to lose from the effects of climate change than almost any other place in the country. Use of fossil fuels contributes to climate change, which already affects us through stronger storms, sea level rise, heat waves, warming oceans and waterways that complicate our water quality crisis, ocean acidification destroying fisheries and coral reefs, droughts on one hand and flooding from stronger downpours on the other, food production challenges, and rising insurance rates.
But there is good news, too. In the past ten years, utility-scale solar installation costs dropped by 74 percent, while costs for community and rooftop solar decreased by 59 percent. And production is up dramatically, with more solar installation in 2017 than coal, gas, and nuclear combined. Installation costs for wind powered electricity are also down 75 percent over the past ten years. In 2018, approximately 50 percent of new electricity capacity in the U.S. was from wind and solar driven by market forces. In fact, these favorable market forces are occurring even though the fossil fuel industry receives more than 36 times as much in subsidies than the renewable energy sector. Simply put, developers and the public sector are quickly realizing that embracing renewable energy sources is financially and technologically desirable.
Many cities in Florida, including Sarasota, Gainesville, Tallahassee, Orlando, and St. Petersburg, have joined with over one hundred other cities around the country to commit to a timely transition to renewable energy. Some have already achieved 100 percent renewable electricity in their communities. It’s time for Sanibel to do the same, for our own sustainability and to inspire the communities around us to follow suit.
Doing this would not mean installing solar panels on every home on Sanibel. It can be accomplished in other ways —such as by working with the Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) to provide Sanibel with only electricity generated from renewable sources.
C.O.T.I. believes it is time for Sanibel to commit to making a shift to a 100 percent clean energy future as part of our sustainability plan. We hope that the City of Sanibel, working in conjunction with LCEC, local businesses and residents can make this goal of 100 percent renewable energy a reality.
If you agree that it is time to take action on this pressing issue, please add your voice to the growing community-wide support to transition Sanibel to 100 percent renewable electricity. Write the City Council and ask them to pass a resolution committing to switch to 100 percent renewable electricity with an aggressive timeline (preferably by 2030) and then appoint a committee to develop a plan for implementation.
Bob Moore is a member of the C.O.T.I. environment committee. He is also co-founder with his wife, Ariel Hoover, of the Lee County Chapter of Climate Reality, a national organization promoting education and action on climate change issues. For more information or to get more involved, contact the C.O.T.I. Environment Committee at email@example.com.