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Dark days ahead for solar incentives in Florida?

The Miami Herald recently reported that Florida electric and utility companies have quietly been spending nearly $50 million during this election cycle to slow the growth of consumer-owned rooftop solar in the state.

The money is being spent promoting Amendment 1 on the state’s ballot, and funding the campaigns of legislative leaders who have been outspoken against solar incentives and net-metering benefits.

Amendment 1 titled “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice” changes language in the state’s constitution to keep solar competition out of state and lower subsidies paid to households generating excess power with rooftop solar. Proponents of the amendment have confusingly dubbed it “pro solar” in an attempt to confuse voters to thinking they are supporting clean energy expansion throughout the state.

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But a look at the companies bankrolling the advertising and political efforts–Florida Power & LIght, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric Co., Gulf Power, Exxon Mobil and a few other oil supporting nonprofits–makes it clear the amendment has the environment’s best interest in mind.

In all my years of public service, I have never seen such a thinly veiled attempt to intentionally mislead Florida voters,” Mike Fasano, a Republican and former state Senator, decried to The Miami Herald.

Misleading verbiage and big spending this election cycle by utility companies in Florida is not an isolated incident to the state, but has occurred in many other states throughout the country as well. For many solar advocates keeping a watch on the matter this comes as no surprise.

A 2013 Edison Electric Industry report titled “Disruptive Challenges” identified the ability of rooftop solar owner to generate excess power as a significant threat to the gas and electric utility industries, outlining plans to reign the movement in.

The language, spending and efforts seen in this year’s election cycle is a direct result of these regulated monopolies reacting to such external threats and the outcome of their efforts and millions in campaign spending will become clear once the dust settles after Americans take to the polls on November 8.

Author: Harold Tan

I believe clean, renewable energy is key to the evolution of society as a whole. Solar powers our planet, why not harness it to power humanity? Let's power our homes, our work, and our vehicles with solar energy. It begins with raising awareness and encouraging those around us to go green.

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