As the most powerful storm to blow through the Florida panhandle, Hurricane Michael left more than 1.3 million Americans without power. The aftermath of the destruction this past October, offered a revelation: renewable energy installations are more resilient than traditional electricity infrastructure, according to Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
Two weeks after the storm, some residents in North Carolina who rely on coal-fired utilities for their power were still without electricity. Yet, Duke Energy’s solar farms sustained no damage.
Also in the wake of Hurricane Michael, Florida residents and businesses expressed continued support of renewable energy sources. According to an EDF poll earlier in the year, two-thirds of Florida business owners believe adopting clean and renewable energy practices is a good economic business decision. Also, more than half of those polled are considering installing solar energy in their homes or businesses.
The EDF also maintained that Florida residents and businesses believe energy efficiency and renewable will provide business benefits for Florida. One example the EDF cited: Wind and solar energy jobs outnumber coal and gas jobs in 30 states.
The hurricane may have convinced some business leaders in Florida to support greater reliance on renewable power. “We are known as the Sunshine State. I would love for us to be known as the Solar Power state,” says Jackie Ventura, head of sustainability at the American Airlines Arena in Miami.
The EDF believes that new sources of capital can bring clean energy initiatives to Florida. Some municipalities are working to secure this funding. One example: Orlando has generated $500 million for businesses and homeowner to make renewable energy investments – ideally ready before the next big storm.