On October 10th of this year, Hurricane Michael wreaked havoc in Panama City, Florida and surrounding cities, flattening home and buildings across five states. Going down as one of the most powerful hurricanes in our nation’s history, the lessons learned from this Category 4 hurricane extend to many sectors, including the power and renewable communities. One of the most devastating consequences of Hurricane Michael was the 1.3 million people who were left without power in the wake up the destruction. The power outages that resulted and the damages to electricity utility structures have brought up questions and concerns as to how these structures might be rebuilt and withstand the next natural disaster in both Florida and surrounding states. 

New Incentive to Implement Solar Power 

Solar power infrastructure and other renewable energy utilities have proven to be more resilient compared to traditional energy utility in both their physical structure and output consistency. After this most recent disaster, advocates for solar energy are speaking up about how implementing solar power utility statewide would ultimately benefit the state when it comes to natural disasters, thanks to their increased resistance compared to traditional energy utility.  

recent write-up on Forbes.com highlighted what certain Florida businesses and their leaders are considering for their energy options when it comes to their defenses against future natural disasters. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) surveyed Florida residents and business owners in regard to solar energy needs. They found that the majority of businesses and home owners in Florida believe that adopting efficient solar and renewable energy practices are important. Additionally, more than half of those polled are already considering installing solar utility for their business or home. The survey also noted that businesses have already been learning to integrate solar energy sources in response to customer demands for renewable and clean energy. 

Solar Power Becoming the Norm 

Jobs in the solar energy and wind utility sectors have now outnumbered those in the gas and coal sectors in Florida, Georgia and nearly 30 other states. Even though Florida is one of the top states to embrace solar energy, there is increased demand for even more solar utility after the fallout of Hurricane Michael. It is likely the events that have transpired and the damages done will ultimately influence Florida officials and advocates for solar energy to continue forward, perhaps at an even more accelerated pace than has previously been seen.  

Although Florida has the third highest rooftop solar power potential, the state ranks fourteenth in actual installation of such solar panels. This potential is now being reevaluated in light of Hurricane Michael’s impacts. One of the biggest hurdles to this implementation, however, according to the Director of Sustainability for Orlando City, Chris Castro, has been having the capital to initially invest in solar power resources and clean energy utilities. The more businesses and residents in the state can embrace the realities of solar energy, the initial start-up costs to implement such solar utility will decrease. For some businesses, embracing solar energy is easy, while others may still question the promises and effects of solar energy in the long-term. 

A New Hope in Solar Energy 

Now is the time for business leaders and those with political power to come together in unison in order to rebuild Florida in a more sustainable and resilient fashion via solar energy structure and utility. While the daunting task of implementing a new system from the ground up may be challenging, there is hope that solar power will be the solution to day-to-day sustainability for Florida residents and businesses. Additionally, solar power may also be the key to protecting the city when natural disasters inevitably strike. Investing in solar energy now is the next logical step for Florida residents and businesses alike in the wake of the hurricane. Sustainability and resilience will now be key focuses for Florida officials and solar power advocates. Despite the losses and the tasks that lie ahead, we can be assured that whatever solar methods are implemented during the rebuilding process will be able to withstand the effects of natural disasters for better than the traditional routes. 

Resources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/edfenergyexchange/2018/10/18/hurricane-michael-highlights-urgent-need-for-more-solar-opportunities-in-florida/2698741963c1 

https://www.edf.org/media/florida-business-leaders-concur-clean-and-renewable-energy-way-forward 

 

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