The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexicounderscores why the United States needs to focus more on renewable and cleaner sources of energy, said NextEra Energy Chairman and CEO Lew Hay.
NextEra , which just changed its name from FPL Group, is the largest producer of wind and solar energy in the U.S., operating in 28 states and Canada. More than 20 percent of the energy generated by NextEra is renewable, coming primarily from wind sources.
“We have a lot of potential for new renewables for our country,” Hay told CNBC, “and we have to get off our dependence on foreign oil.”
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico raises concerns for some power plants in Florida that use the Gulf's water to cool their equipment. Although the oil has not reached the power plants, NextEra's facilities are prepared to combat the oil spill, Hay said.
"To me, this just further illustrates the social costs associated with exploring and burning fossil fuels, and it's important that we have an energy policy in our country," Hay said.
Of all the potential renewable sources of energy, Hay said he believes solar energy is the most promising.
“We think solar is where wind was 10 years ago,” Hay said, adding that “It’s hard to predict what we will invest in solar over the next 10 years, but I can easily see it [as] a scenario that is very similar to that [wind].”
Hay supports a carbon tax on carbon dioxide emissionsfrom the burning of fossil fuels.