You will soon be receiving mailers from Consumers for Smart Solar asking for your vote on Amendment 1. Help me me set the record straight. This amendment is not pro-solar. It is largely bankrolled by the state's power companies and groups with ties to the Koch Brothers. Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente has described it as a "wolf in sheep's clothing." It misleads voters by promising rights that already exist while paving the way for unfair fees and discriminatory penalties on solar customers.
The state's association of solar companies - Florida Solar Energy Industries Assoc. - opposes the amendment. The League of Women Voters also opposes Amendment 1 as do a host of groups across the political spectrum. I've included a brief description below of what the Amendment does and does not do.
Please help spread this information to friends, colleagues and members. Here is a link to educational resources.
If your group would like to officially oppose Amendment 1, please let me know by return email - thanks to those that have officially opposed. Thank you in advance for everyone's efforts to educate folks. The power companies are spending big dollar amounts to misinform - let's leverage our people power resources and give them a run for their money!
Thank you, George Cavros
Three things you need to know about Amendment 1:
1. Amendment 1 is funded by Florida’s big utilities to protect their monopoly markets and limit customer-owned solar.
2. Amendment 1 paves the way for barriers that would penalize solar customers.
3. Amendment 1 misleads Florida voters by promising rights and protections that Florida citizens already have
Follow the Money: Funded by Big Utilities
Amendment 1 is largely bankrolled by the big monopoly utilities, led by Florida Power and Light (FPL) and joined by Duke Energy, Tampa Electric and Gulf Power through a political committee called Consumers for Smart Solar. It’s an alliance that’s collected over $21 million – on track to be the most expensive ballot initiative in Florida’s history - to get this deceptive measure on the ballot and try to convince voters to adopt it. Why are the big utilities spending that kind of money?
Amendment 1 is entitled: Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice. Do Florida’s monopoly utilities really want to expand solar choice and the rights of customer-owned solar? Or are they using carefully researched wording to deceive voters? Florida voters should be skeptical. After all, the utilities profit handsomely as the sole provider of power to a large and captive customer base. FPL made $1.65 billion dollars in profit last year. Of course they want to continue that so it should come as no surprise that they helped write the amendment which contains language to pave the way for additional barriers to adopting customer-owned solar, thus keeping customers captive.
Solar power is poised to grow in the Sunshine State, which would allow customers to control their power bills by generating their own power and buying less from the electric utilities. FPL and the other big power companies want to maintain their monopoly control on profits from electricity sales and limit customer-owned solar.
Amendment 1 Paves the Way for Barriers
Amendment 1, if passed, will pave the way for additional barriers to customer-owned solar, such as the imposition of fees or discriminatory penalties on solar customers. Amendment 1 is strongly opposed by the Florida Solar Energy Industry Association (FLSEIA)– which filed a brief opposing the measure at the Supreme Court. They view it as a clear and present danger to customer owned solar in Florida. Let’s take a closer look at the text of Amendment 1.
Creating Financial Barriers to Customer-Owned Solar
The most concerning element of the amendment is found in the last provision, which sets the stage to weaken or eliminate the state’s net metering policy, or to impose discriminatory fees on customers that generate solar power. Amendment 1 states 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.” While this provision might sound like a good thing, it is actually based on misinformation and is an unsupported assumption. The ballot wording closely mirrors wording used by the utilities in filings before the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) in June 2015 arguing against “demand side” or customer owned solar.
Amendment 1 would create a permanent legal presumption in the Florida Constitution that solar customers aren’t paying their fair share of the utility’s costs by generating their own power and sending excess power back to the grid. Yet, the presumption has no factual basis in Florida. In fact, numerous reputable studies conclude that solar customers are providing a net benefit to the utility’s system – and therefore all customers – by self-generating solar power.
The large monopoly utilities are looking for ways to limit access to customer-owned solar and will use this false claim as a justification to implement unfair fees and discriminatory penalties for solar customers. Restrictions and discriminatory fees would make solar more expensive, limit the expansion of solar, and hurt consumers by denying them a cost effective way to lower power bills - particularly impacting underserved communities.
No New Rights, No Additional Consumer Protection
The first provision in the summary establishes a right under the Florida constitution for “consumers to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use.” The fact is, the right to own or lease solar equipment already exists in Florida statute and in the net metering rule.
The second provision states that “state and local governments shall retain their abilities to protect consumer rights and public health, safety and welfare ….” Yet, if state and local government retain power, where is the additional protection in the amendment? Current consumer protection laws would remain in place, regardless if the amendment passes or not.
These false promises of additional rights are simply campaign slogans designed to gain support for the Amendment and will do nothing to add to consumer protections or consumer rights in Florida.
Do Not be Mislead: Get the Facts
The stark fact is that there are only 11,626 customer-owned solar systems out of a possible 9 million. This is a fraction of 1% of electricity customers in Florida that currently have customer-owned solar. That is many times lower than customer-owned solar penetration in other less sunny states. Shouldn’t the Sunshine State be embracing a clean energy future and expanding access to the economic benefits of customer-owned solar power to more customers – including underserved communities?
Don’t be fooled. Amendment 1 will continue to move customer-owned solar out of reach for many of Florida’s families and businesses and drag state solar policy backwards. Amendment 1 Blocks the Sun.
Here's what you'll see on the ballot:
Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice
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.