The Day Solar Energy Died in Florida
Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, step right up and be amazed at the sleight of hand being perpetrated by the State of Florida public utility companies. Stare in awed wonder at Amendment 1 and the statements of how the utility companies have the public interest at heart. Shame on you Consumers for Smart Solar for misleading the public into thinking that Amendment 1 will provide additional protections and opportunities for individual solar generation.
Let’s get something straight. In its most basic form, Amendment 1 performs one very important, crucial function for the electric companies. Amendment 1 does away with net metering. What does this mean? Currently, if you have a solar panel system, you generate electrical energy. This energy does not go directly to your home. It goes to the electric companies who provide you back a credit against the electricity that they provide to you. Hence, you get a “net” benefit for what you provide against what you use. By removing net metering, Amendment 1 will allow the utility companies to effectively charge you fees for providing them electricity. Their argument is that since you are providing them energy along their lines, you are therefore using their services and should be responsible for paying for this right. In this way, they claim to protect all the other people that don’t have solar. This is both ridiculous and sad. It is ridiculous to assume that providing electricity back to the grid is creating a burden on all electricity users. It is sad because it is being couched in terms that make it seem like it is making solar more accessible to the general population.
There is no easier way to pierce this veil than to see who is behind the support for this amendment. The Consumers for Smart Solar PAC has raised over $16,000,000 to promote this amendment. The top contributors are FP&L - $4,145,000, Duke Energy - $3,987,000, TECO - $2,352,675 and Gulf Power - $1,659,450.
Amendment 1 is very different from Amendment 4, which was approved this past August. Amendment 4 removed certain state taxes from solar systems, making solar installation more affordable. Where a yes vote for Amendment 4 helped reduce the cost of obtaining solar, a yes vote for Amendment 1 will allow the utility companies to impose substantial fees for the use of solar.
The sad thing is that the language for the Amendment is very confusing. It is couched in such a way as to appear appealing to the general public who desire a solar alternative, when in fact, it is anything but beneficial to the general public and solar users. After all, who is not in favor of solar energy, right? Unfortunately, as their contributions indicate, the only groups that will truly benefit will be the utility companies as they will be able to charge people more for their right to generate solar electricity.
In an age of global warming and increased environmental enlightenment, the utility companies and proponents of this amendment should be ashamed of themselves.
Please do not be fooled. Please share this blog with as many voting Floridians as you can. Amendment 1 is not a push for solar. It is a push to increase profits for the utility companies. Vote a resounding NO to Amendment 1 in November.
Until next time…
Keep kicking the dirt!
Jeff Gersh is President of Gersh Consulting Services, a real estate advisory firm, headquartered in Orlando, FL. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-468-9328