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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Green Jobs for Florida

Vestina Crayton Pinellas County Extension Specialist, Urban Sustainability

With the adoption of clean energy legislation and policies, Florida will not only reap the benefits of less pollution, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency but also the creation of up to 78,000 jobs over the next ten years.

To discuss some of these policies and legislation, the Green Jobs for Florida delegation will be participating in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen Denmark December 7th-18th. International leaders will be discussing the limiting of greenhouse gas emissions. These discussions are critical to creating jobs and boosting our economy. Participating in the conference are representatives from Raymond James, St. Petersburg and Hogan Law Group, Tampa who are among the 25 members of the Green Jobs for Florida delegation.

With the introduction of green jobs in the coming years, this is the perfect opportunity to educate yourself on the green economy. To help you get started, sign up for Pinellas County Extension’s Solutions in 30 Webinar Green Jobs on Wednesday, January 20, 2010, 12:15pm- 12:45pm. This presentation will describe what a green job is, what training is required, and where to apply.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

President Obama’s Job Summit

On December 3rd, over 100 leaders from across the nation representing the business community, educational system, local governments and others met at the White House to discuss new and innovative ways to create jobs. There is still much work to be done to get people back to work even though the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a decline in the unemployment rate of 10.2 to 10. Although slight, this is one of the most encouraging reports since the economic decline in December 2007.

After the half-day workshop, although many ideas were discussed, the following six areas of opportunities were compiled and presented to the Obama Administration:

Give employers incentives to hire
• Create green energy jobs with a “cash for caulkers” program
• Boost credit availability for small firms
• Boost infrastructure spending or aid to states
• Expanding exports
• Use the TARP fund as a pool of jobs money
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President Obama is encouraging leaders at the local level to organize forums in their own communities to discuss ways the business community can expand and create jobs. The President emphasized the need to include local academic and training institutions in these discussions. This will ensure there are resources in place to prepare individuals to fill the positions as they become available.

STEM, Science, Technology Engineering and Math, is one initiative that connects the workforce community with the educational community. Created by Workforce Florida and Enterprise Florida, this program was designed to provide students with the skills to meet the needs of some of today’s fastest growing industries such as alternative energy, aerospace engineering and information technology. “This collaboration is the right opportunity at the right time for Florida,” said Allan Bense, Vice Chairman of Enterprise Florida. “Florida’s success in the 21st Century economy will depend greatly on our ability to train, retain and retrain a ready workforce of problem solvers and innovators who are well skilled in STEM fields.”

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

District Asks Homeowners to "Skip a Week" of Irrigation this Winter

The Southwest Florida Water Management District recently launched a new campaign to encourage residents who irrigate their lawns to "Skip a Week" of watering during the cooler months of December, January and February.

According to research by the University of Florida, grass doesn't need to be watered as often during the cooler months. In fact, one-half to three-quarters of an inch of water every 10–14 days is sufficient.

“Over-watering in the winter can encourage pests and disease in your lawn," said Sylvia Durell, Florida-friendly landscaping project manager. Skipping a week of watering is as easy as “off” for residents with irrigation timers. “Turn the timer to ‘off’ for the week that you want to skip, and ‘on’ for the week that you want to water,” said Durell.

Homeowners can determine when their grass needs water when:

  • Grass blades are folded in half lengthwise on 30 percent of the lawn
  • Grass blades are blue-gray
  • Footprints remain on the lawn for several minutes after walking on it

Skipping a week of irrigation will help conserve drinking water supplies. Following the “Skip a Week” plan saves water that the public needs for other critical uses during the dry season.

In addition to entering the dry season, the region is experiencing the effects of a four-year drought. All 16 counties within the District are under one-day-per-week lawn watering restrictions through the end of February.

For more water conservation tips, information about the drought and the current water restrictions, please visit the District's web site at

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Florida EnergyStar Appliance Rebate Program

On May 19, 2009 Governor Crist signed House Bill 167. This bill marks a continuation of his commitment to increasing energy efficiency and stimulating the economy. House Bill 167 enables the Florida Energy and Climate Commission (FECC) to develop and manage guidelines, consistent with federal regulations, designating eligible appliances, rebate amounts and the process for issuing rebates. The rebate program will help Floridians buy appliances at discount rates, lower utility costs, and benefit Florida businesses by stimulating sales of energy-efficient appliances.

Pending final approval from the United States Department of Energy, there will be six residential appliances that qualify for Florida’s 20% ENERGY STAR Appliance Rebate Program:
  • refrigerators
  • freezers
  • washing machines
  • dish washers
  • room air conditioners, and
  • gas tankless water heaters
Florida’s program is anticipated to last for ten days in April 2010 and run in conjunction with Florida’s Earth Day events.


What is the purpose of this program?
The United States Congress approved the ENERGY STAR Appliance Rebate Program to assist consumers in replacing their old energy inefficient appliances for ones that use less energy and water. This program was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is designed to stimulate the economy by encouraging consumers to purchase new appliances. Purchasing new appliances will help create jobs for appliance manufacturers and retail stores. The program also encourages consumers to save energy, and to lower their monthly bills through the use of a more efficient appliance.

How much money did the State of Florida receive from the United States Department of Energy to conduct an ENERGY STAR Appliance Rebate program?
Florida received $17,585,000 to conduct the Florida ENERGY STAR Appliance Rebate program. A small portion will be used administer the program and the remaining will be used to provide consumer rebates on purchases of ENERGY STAR appliances and for incentives to recycle old appliances.

What is so special about ENERGY STAR appliances?
To qualify for the ENERGY STAR label an appliance must meet rigorous energy efficiency and water efficiency standards set by the Federal government. These appliances use less energy and less water than regular appliances and thus help the consumer save money each month on their utility bills.

Who can apply for these rebates?
Anyone residing in the state of Florida may purchase an appliance for their personal use in their home.

I own an apartment building, why can’t I qualify for these rebates?
We represent a condo association, why do we not qualify for these rebates?

The Guidance Documents provided to the state by the United States Department of Energy were very specific that the program is intended for personal use in a residence and is not to be used for commercial purchase. They believe that commercial business owners have other opportunities to save money at retailers that are not available to regular consumers.

When will the ENERGY STAR Appliance Rebate Program occur?
To qualify for the rebate the ENERGY STAR appliance must be purchased during the time period from April 16 through April 25, 2010. There are no retroactive rebates.

Am I guaranteed a rebate if I purchase an appliance during the program open period?
No guarantee of a rebate is given; appliances will be rebated on a first come first serve basis as long as the money lasts.

Why are you waiting until April 2010 to run theENERGY STAR Appliance Rebate Program?
We are waiting until April 2010 at the request of the appliance manufacturers and retail stores. Because the economy has been in a slump many manufacturers have had to cut back on production and many retailers have reduced their inventory. With every state in the United States offering this ENERGY STAR appliance rebate the manufacturers and retailers need time to ramp up production and stock the stores before the program launch date.

Why is the program only 10 days long?
Based on our nation’s experience with the Cash for Clunkers program, the retailers and manufacturers have requested we limit the time of the initial program to ensure those who really want to take advantage of this program have the opportunity to do so. If there is money left over, another smaller rebate program will be offered six months later.

Which appliances qualify for theENERGY STAR Appliance Rebate Program?
Florida will offer rebates on the following ENERGY STAR appliances: (1) Refrigerators, (2) Freezers, (3) Washing machines, (4) Dishwashers, (5) Room air conditioners, and (6) Gas tank-less hot water heaters. These six appliances were selected because they offer consumers in the state the largest energy and water savings and there are no other state rebate programs on these particular appliances.

How much of a rebate will I receive for each appliance?
The rebate will be 20% of the purchase price before taxes. The total amount of rebates and recycling fees that a residential address may receive is capped at $1,500.

How many appliances can I receive a rebate on?
Consumers may receive a rebate on the purchase of one of each type of appliance. They can receive a rebate on each appliance if they purchase 1 refrigerator, 1 washing machine, 1 dishwasher, 1 freezer, 1 room air conditioner, and 1 gas tankless water heater.

How do I apply for the rebate?
The rebate application will be a paper application to be mailed in along with the original purchase receipt.

What do I have to do to prove I purchased the appliance?
You must submit an original purchase receipt. Most stores will provide you with two receipts, one to save for warranty work and the other to use for the rebate.

Is this program like the automobile cash for clunkers where I have to turn in my old appliance?
No, you are not required to trade in your old appliance to receive the rebate, however, we strongly encourage you to do so and we will pay you an additional $75 on top of your rebate if you do. On the same rebate application there will be a section to indicate that you wish to take advantage of the recycling bonus. You must also provide evidence of having recycled your old appliance by providing a receipt from your retailer indicating that they will deliver your new appliance and take away your old appliance. Or you may take your old appliance to any certified landfill in the state of Florida and get a receipt from them indicating the type of appliance you are recycling, the serial number, the date it was delivered, and their signature as confirmation.