Florida Utilities Spend Millions to Block Solar Choices

Why Vote NO on Florida’s Amendment No. 1

Florida’s state utilities, run by Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy, both Public Utilities, have worked behind the scenes to totally gut energy credits once in place to Florida homeowners.  Prior to the financial crash in 2008, Florida was experiencing explosive grown.  This put huge demands to grow the electrical power generation of Florida state utilities.  They knew that this was a very expensive proposition and thus, created incentives to reduce the demand for more electricity.  They did this by providing energy rebates for its customers to purchased energy efficient air conditioning systems and solar energy.

Air conditioning equipment is one of the largest consumers of electrical energy, and it was known that if they moved people to more energy efficient air conditioning systems, they would not only save a lot of money, but they would play an important part of cutting the demand for electricity.   This would delay the need for additional power germination facilities.  It worked.  Tens of thousands of homes took advantage of modern, high efficiency air conditioning systems.  The same applied to solar panels as well.  Both were very successful programs.  Too well apparently.

Currently, Florida is one of only five states in the nation that prohibits citizens from buying electricity from companies that will put solar panels on your home or business.

It seems that the stockholders of both Duke and Florida Power & Light took notice, as did the heads of both.  To counter the growing decline in power consumption, FP&L began slashing their energy credits – saying that it wasn’t fair to the poor.  This is pure nonsense.  Though higher efficiency units are more expensive, their return of investment makes them the most cost efficient to buy.  These new systems literally pay for themselves in years, instead of just throwing money down the drain.

For the past 3 years, we at Berkun Air have witnessed energy credits getting slashed.  Last year alone, FP&L cuts nearly every authorized air conditioning installer from their energy credit program, thus making it harder for homeowners to take advantage of a very popular program that was highly successful.  Additionally, we saw FP&L gut the solar panel credits that most other states promote.  These utility companies are suppose to serve as public utilities that are regulated by the States Public Utility, but in reality, these same utilities are pumping millions into the coffers of those that govern the state in on behalf of the stockholders of those utilities companies.

Florida, “the sunshine state,” ranks third in the nation after California and Texas for rooftop solar potential, but ranks 14th for cumulative solar capacity installed.  Why is that?  The public utility companies have lobbied hard to block renewable solar energy on private homes and does not allow power purchase agreements, which again would slash their demand loads.  These same utility are investing heavily to block thousands of small businesses that were eager to grow in Florida.

 

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As chair of Florida’s House’s Committee on Energy, Kreegel was in a position to change Florida Laws that have restricted the growth of energy-producing rooftop solar panels on homes in Florida.  Guess why !!  As a self-described free-market individual, Kreegel saw the issue as getting government out of the way of a growing industry.  Well, this might be true if you are one of two of the states giant utilities, but it was a smack in the face for thousands of small business that saw a market wide open for growth and tens of thousands of new jobs in the state.  But Kreegel soon discovered that his fellow committee members wouldn’t even discuss solar energy, and the fact that he brought it up made him an outcast in Tallahassee.

According to analysis who studied campaign records by the Florida Center of Investigative Reporting showed that utility companies have sunk $12 million into the campaigns of state lawmakers since 2010 !!  It’s it outrageous that a public utility would fight for the stockholders of their firms instead of looking out for the well being of the public they serve ?  They are after all, public utilities.

ALEC’s Deceptive Smart Solar Amendment

So who is behind this initiative to block solar at the home level, not just in Florida, but at the federal level.  The American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC, a non-profit lobbying group that pushes the agendas of large corporations and drafts bills for state elected officials, it has pushed an Amendment onto the November 2016 ballot in Florida called the “Smart Solar Amendment”, or Amendment #1.  The Smart Solar Amendment is anything but smart and is attempting to charge high maintenance fees on any customer that has their own solar power.  They’re saying that rooftop solar panel consumers are freeloading off of the utility company and causing losses to their bottom line.  Well – welcome to the free market.  This simply isn’t true however and study after study has proven these to be completely false.  Solar customers actually provide a net benefit to the utility industry.

Currently, Florida is one of only five states in the nation that prohibits citizens from buying electricity from companies that will put solar panels on your home or business.  Isn’t competition suppose to be a good thing?  This literally explains why Florida is so far behind the rest of the nation.

In November of 2015, the Florida Public Service Commission approved allowing utilities to end solar rebates and gut energy efficiency goals by 90 percent, because the utilities claimed neither is “cost-effective.”  Boy was this a boom for the stockholders of the states public utility companies.

Come November 8, 2016, voters will be asked to vote on a very poorly worded Constitutional Amendment what was clearly meant to confuse voters.

Amendment 1 reads on that ballot as such:

NO. 1
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
ARTICLE X, SECTION 29

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.

The amendment is not expected to result in an increase or decrease in any revenues or cost to state and local government.  

Summary of Florida’s Constitutional Amendment

Opponents make the following arguments in opposition to Amendment 1:

  • Amendment 1 is backed by utilities and would extend their control over solar energy production while limiting customer solar production
  • Amendment 1 would potentially prohibit the practice of net metering
  • Amendment 1 is unnecessary and misleading because it would provide rights and protections that Florida residents already have.

Organizations, Associations, & Businesses Voting NO on 1

  • AFL-CIO
  • American Institute of Architects
  • Audubon of the Western Everglades
  • Audubon Society of the Everglades
  • Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association
  • Christian Coalition of America & Christian Coalition of Florida
  • Clean Water Action
  • CLEO Institute
  • Climate Action Coalition of South Florida
  • Climate Reality Project
  • Collier Citizens for Sustainability
  • Conservancy of Southwest Florida
  • Conservatives for Energy Freedom
  • Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship
  • Consumers Union, Policy and Action from Consumer Reports
  • Earthjustice – Tallahassee
  • Environment Florida
  • First GREEN Bank
  • Florida Alliance for Retired Americans
  • Florida Conservation Voters
  • Florida Education Association
  • Florida Green Chamber of Commerce
  • Florida Wildlife Federation
  • Floridians for Solar Choice
  • Food & Water Watch
  • Greenpeace
  • Hands Across the Sand
  • League of Women Voters of Florida
  • League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County
  • Liberty First PAC
  • Orange Audubon Society
  • Our Santa Fe River
  • Physicians for Social Responsibility
  • Progress Florida
  • Sierra Club
  • South Florida Audubon Society
  • Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
  • Space Coast Climate Change Initiative
  • Sunshine State Interfaith Power and Light
  • Sustany Foundation
  • Transition Sarasota
  • S. Green Building Council Florida
  • S. Green Chamber of Commerce
  • Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota, Climate Justice Task Force
  • Unitarian Universalist Justice Florida
  • Urban Paradise Guild
  • Ybor City Stogie

Solar Industry Voting NO on 1

  • A1A Solar
  • Abundant Energy Inc.
  • The Alliance for Solar Choice
  • American Solar Energy Society
  • Bison Roofing and Solar
  • Caribbean Electric
  • Elite Solar Services
  • ESA Renewables LLC
  • Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy
  • Florida Renewable Energy Association
  • Florida Solar Energy Industries Association (FLASEIA)
  • Harriman’s Solar
  • Independent Green Technologies
  • MagneGas
  • Power Production Management, Inc.
  • Solar City
  • Solar Direct
  • Solar Education Association of the Florida Keys
  • Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)
  • Solar Habitats, LLC
  • Solar Impact
  • Solar Ray
  • Solar Trek
  • Solar-Fit
  • SunConnect
  • Superior Solar
  • Tampa Energy Solutions
  • TEVAenergy
  • UMA Solar
  • Urban Solar
  • Vinyasun
  • Women 4 Solar, LLC

Politicians Voting No on 1

  • Alachua County Democratic Party
  • Broward Democratic Party
  • Capital Young Republicans
  • Davie Democratic Club
  • Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida
  • Democratic Progressive Caucus
  • Democratic Women’s Club of Florida
  • Democratic Women’s Club of West Broward
  • Ecology Party
  • Green Party of Florida
  • Highlands Beach Democratic Club
  • Hillsborough County Democratic Party
  • Libertarian Party of Florida
  • Libertarian Party of Miami Dade
  • Orange County Democratic Party
  • Palm Beach Democratic Party
  • Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee
  • Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida
  • Seminole County Democratic Party
  • Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas County
  • Villages Democratic Club
  • Volusia Democratic Party

Local Governments, Elected Officials, and Candidates Voting NO on 1

  • Vice President Al Gore
  • Senator Dwight Bullard
  • Senator Jack Latvala
  • Adam Morley, Candidate for State House, District 24
  • John W. Scott, Candidate for State House, District 79
  • Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado
  • City of South Miami
  • Seminole Soil & Water Conservation District
  • Orange Soil & Water Conservation District
  • David Mahnken, Seminole Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor
  • Donald Menzel, Vice Chairman, Seminole Soil & Water Conservation District
  • Ed Young, Seminole Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor
  • Maria Bolton-Joubert, Candidate for Orange County Soil & Water Conservation District

 

 

 

About Berkun Air Expert

Berkun Air serves Palm Beach Country (Florida), including Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Highland Beach, Boca Raton, Gulf Stream, Ocean Ridge, Hypoluxo Island, Manalapan, South Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, North Palm Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Jupiter, Lake Worth and Wellington.
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