Earlier today, Energy Fairness Executive Director Paul Griffin addressed Florida lawmakers on a piece of legislation aimed at strengthening the electric grid against hurricanes and other extreme events. The following is Mr. Griffin’s testimony.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate having the opportunity to speak in support of SB 796 and we commend Senator Gruters and the committee for the work on this critical piece of resiliency legislation for Florida’s electric grid.
Energy Fairness is a national non-profit energy organization. We’ve been in existence for more than 11 years, and our mission is to have a conversation with policymakers and consumers about what it takes for our nation to maintain an affordable and reliable supply of energy.
Our conversation about reliability is what brings me here today to support SB 796. Whether it’s the catastrophic Wildfires that plagued California last year, the pummeling of the eastern Seaboard by Super Storm Sandy in 2012 or the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Michael or Irma, to have a reliable supply of electricity it’s imperative to have an electric grid that’s resilient to these types of catastrophic weather events and natural disasters.
And that’s what SB 796 does by providing the strategic framework and permitting the necessary investment to create long-term plans to harden Florida’s grid. Long-term planning and upfront investment allow for the most cost-effective and efficient hardening efforts.
Energy Fairness believes that the upfront investment required to harden the grid will be returned many times over in the form of decreased power restoration times after an event like Michael or Irma. Without a doubt, Mr. Chairman, Resiliency and storm hardening measures dramatically improve power restoration, mitigate economic damage, and save lives.
And the good news is, we know hardening works. The PSC noted the vast improvement in restoration times between the 2004 AND 2005 hurricane seasons and the recent 2016 AND 2017 seasons. These prudent investments in a stronger and more resilient grid will pay off for Floridians.
The numbers don’t lie. Severe weather and natural disasters cost billions of dollars Annually. Moreover, economic costs mount significantly every day the lights are out.
A 2018 Federal report by NOAA found natural disasters and severe weather events in 2017 cost the United States a record $306 billion dollars in damages.
Moreover, the economic damage inflicted by individual natural disasters is staggering. Superstorm Sandy cost between $27-$52 billion in 2012. Hurricane Irma cost $51 billion in 2017.
One report we saw predicted the 2018 California wildfires cost $400 billion in damage and has forced Pacific Gas and Electric into bankruptcy proceedings.
Here in Florida, the billions in economic damage inflicted by the last few hurricane seasons illustrate how imperative hardening measures are for Florida’s future. There is a cost to do this, but the cost of doing nothing is far greater. SB 796 recognizes this by providing the necessary tools and flexibility to enhance the resiliency of Florida’s grid. By enhancing resiliency, we only enhance Floridians’ access to affordable and reliable power.
Hardening and resiliency are important conversations around the country right now as states grapple with recovering from and preparing for major weather events. Florida is wise to be a leader in these areas by passing this good bill.
Thank you for allowing me to testify and explain why Energy Fairness supports SB. 796. I’d be happy to answer any questions the committee might have.