What's going on with solar energy policy in Florida?
First, what is solar energy?
Solar energy is considered one of the cleanest and most abundant forms of energy available. Solar technology directly converts sunlight to electricity.
Solar energy is plentiful, clean, reliable and efficient. CEJ cares about solar policy because it is smart for the State, smart for the planet, smart for the economy and one step closer to addressing, through policy, how people live responsibly on Earth.
Florida ranks third in the nation for rooftop solar potential, but all the way down at 14th for actual solar installed.
Tapping into that potential would great, but there are some boundaries that solar has to get through to flourish in The Sunshine State.
There will be two very different solar amendments on the ballot this year, one in August and one in November.
The first is Amendment 4, which we will see on the August primary ballot. This amendment will address one of the barriers facing solar growth.
This could encourage the development of solar business in Florida, encourage the use and installation of solar energy devices, create jobs, and bring diversity to the State’s energy grid—it’s good for business and it's good for homeowners, it’s good for the economic climate-- and well, for our actual climate.
Overall, this is a smart step in renewable energy policy in Florida.
Floridians will see another solar related amendment on the November ballot. The “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice,” or Amendment 1.
This amendment is much different. What does it do? It's constitutionalizing the "status quo," --the current status of solar energy policy.
More notably, Amendment 1 constitutionalizes the right for State and local governments to regulate solar power, as they do now.
The Utility backed proposal does not immediately expand consumer choice, or create a competitive marketplace.
In a 4-3 approval of the ballot language, Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente delivered a powerful dissent calling this amendment a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
In a footnote, she further expressed that “[d]ue to the use and definitions of certain terms within the proposed amendment, it may actually have the effect of diminishing some rights of solar energy consumers."
There you have it—this is what’s going on with the two solar amendments in Florida in 2016.
For more information on solar energy, the amendments, the full Florida Supreme Court Opinion, and op-eds, please see the links below.
Florida Supreme Court:
Opinion and dissent can be read in its entirety here: http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2016/sc15-2150.pdf
On Solar Energy: