Solar power for home use has come a long way from an auspicious beginning as a niche for the super environmentalist, to the leading alternative energy source for residential and commercial buildings. It has grown to point that utility special interests are threatened by it and looking to curb its adoption through legislative measures. These measures add fees to homes and businesses that save money from bypassing utility power and protect the environment through ending the constant stream of pollution created by fossil fuel power generation, plus provide the solution to the pipeline spills that are becoming a common occurrence. In the state of Florida the measure to stop is Amendment 1, which through its misleading wording intends to block the sun.
The ballot measure is coming up on November 8, the same time as the presidential election. Although, ballots can be cast by mail starting October 4-11 or during early voting October 29-November 5 for those highly motivated folks. The wording on its face sounds soothing and plausible…
This amendment establishes a right under Florida’s constitution for consumers to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use. State and local governments shall retain their abilities to protect consumer rights and public health, safety and welfare, and to ensure that consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do.
However when we take a look at the 3 parts of this wording we see:
- The right to own or lease solar power.
- Government protection of consumer rights and health/safety.
- Protection from added expense.
With respect to the first portion, the people of Florida already have the right to own solar. Leases are outlawed due to being 3rd party power generation, 1 of 5 states to have such a monopoly protection. Besides, ownership is superior to leasing as is renting vs. owning. This portion is redundant and unnecessary from its inception. The supposition is that it is written as the grounding for the amendment, intended to mislead the people about what they already have.
Portion two its equally redundant because it is already an established task of the government to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the people. The State Attorney’s Office spends thousands of man hours doing just that. There is a dedicated portion of their office that solely focuses on consumer protection. So to further mislead people on what they already have is blatantly showing a greater level of intended deception.
In the third portion is where we see the ulterior nature of this amendment. No one wants to subsidize their neighbors investment, understandably, however study after study proves that when a neighbor goes solar EVERYONE benefits (even the utility). So, what is the goal of this last portion? Examples from similar moves show it is to add fees for a homeowner or business that chooses to stop contributing to the utility monopoly.
When looking at similar measures it becomes more and more apparent that the goal is a penalty fee for going solar. Nevada measure raised rates by 40% creating a 90% drop in solar installation permits. Arizona has a measure that raised their interconnection fee to $50/month plus raised fees for everyone. Minnesota created a local ordinance to begin a fee before solar has even gotten past 5 installations. Hawaii utility backed efforts block solar panel interconnection due to “safety”. The list can be made even longer with a state by state search. This amendment is simply a back door way to attack solar and block the sun in the sunshine state.
When looking at the potential of rooftop solar in Florida it is easy to see why the utility feels threatened, surely the horse and buggy industry felt the same way about the car. The financial benefits to homeowners and businesses are tremendous along with the fact that the environmental protections that are provided by the new model just make sense. A spill for solar is just a sunny Florida day. In reality everyone sees the service that the utilities provide, but better technology has arrived and their responsibility needs to adapt rather than attempt to hold back advancement. There is a future for the utility is regulating the virtual power plant that is created by the excess power from solar arrays and greater financial gains for the market that it creates. Understanding how this backward amendment blocks the sun is the first step and the second is to inform all of our friends and family, particularly those that vote. Third is to go solar and see the benefits for yourself while reaching out to those around you. It is our responsibility to protect ourselves and the environment.
Go forth and spread sunshine,
Independent Energy Advisor
Clean Renewable Energy Worldwide