Florida Voters Vote Down Bill Aimed At Hamstringing Solar Competition

from the when-astroturf-backfires dept

In an election without many net positives for people that care about technology issues, one small glimmer of good news actually came out of Florida last week. As we've been noting, utility companies have been going to some incredibly sleazy lengths to fight back against the rise of solar competition, including the creation of entirely bogus "consumer groups" like Consumers For Smart Solar. Groups like this profess to support solar power, yet have spent the lion's share of their utility funding to hamstring solar efforts in a state that could benefit immeasurably from the transition.

Fake consumer groups that try to muddy the discourse waters and convince the public to support policies that run contrary to their best interests are nothing new, and have been a cornerstone of telecom lobbying for years. But in Florida, incumbent utilities ran into some trouble recently when one of the think tankers they employed accidentally publicly admitted the group was a sham designed to push Amendment 1. Amendment 1 professed to open up Florida's solar market to competition, but in reality would have done the exact opposite by saddling solar power efforts with intentionally crippling regulation.

It's believed that Duke Energy, Florida Power & Light, Gulf Power and Tampa Electric Co. collectively paid around $20.2 million to try and get Amendment 1 passed. Another $6 million was spent on proxy groups tied to utilities that argued for the Amendment. And yet somehow, in an electoral climate where voting against your best self interests is the new sexy, Florida voters defeated the proposal by a narrow margin.

Of course Florida utilities won't be deterred, and are looking to impose all manner of other new restrictions on solar providers so they won't have to compete, and won't need to pay solar-powered homes that are contributing power back to the grid. But as local Florida news outlets have noted these efforts may have had the reverse impact than intended, with solar's popularity surging in the wake of these utilities' plans to try and fight an obvious evolutionary path:
"I don’t think this was their intent, but what the utilities did with Amendment 1 was bring the discussion of solar energy development in Florida to the forefront,” said Delp, who is working with a company building a 30-megawatt private solar farm in Leesburg. “It’s now a kitchen table issue. There is awareness that there is a lack of solar in Florida and that we lag behind so many other states."
Obviously this isn't the end of the conversation. While Miami Beach is spending $400 million to raise their roads in an attempt to buy itself 40 years in the face of rising sea levels, we just elected a President that believes climate change is a Chinese-manufactured hoax. That said, it's at least marginally entertaining that attempts to hamstring solar energy competition in Florida failed largely because the incumbent utilities got too cocky.

Filed Under: florida, lobbyists, solar

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    1. I can tell that none of you have done the required reading to become literate on this issue. Perhaps, before you weigh in on something this important, you should consider reading at least one book on the subject and a few of the most important papers.

    2. Yes, preserving rainforests and greenspace and creating urban enclaves (like green rooftops) are all important. Yes, there are people working on these. Yes, they'll help. No, it's not nearly enough. Not even close. There's also the problem of net carbon: for example, putting in a rooftop garden on a 60-story office building requires moving mass, therefore it requires energy. What's the source of that energy? Is it diesel fuel in a truck that brings in the dirt? What's the source of the energy that powers the service elevator that lifts it all to the roof? And so on. It's NOT simple. Read. Learn.

    3. One of the many things you all seem to be missing is a grasp of the scale of the problem. Even if we stop modern civilization dead in its tracks today, the temperature is going to continue to go up, because the processes involved are enormous and can no more be arrested in place than an oil tanker can be stopped on a dime. Again: read. Learn.

    4. There's nothing doomsdayish, alarmist, or anything else about what I wrote. One of the things that you will notice, if you actually do your homework, is that climate science as a whole has been consistently (but not terribly) wrong for the past 10, 20, 30 years. That is: predictions have always been wrong on the conservative side, and subsequent observations have shown that things are getting worse faster than we thought. This is understandable: good scientists are reserved by nature and not given to hyberbole. But it does mean that however bad current consensus says things are: they're probably worse. There will probably be a paper published in 2017 or 2018 that demonstrates that we need to revise estimates upward -- again -- because of another process that someone has realized is in play and is contributing to the problem.

    5. Mindful of the Chinese aphorism that every crisis conceals opportunity, there ARE tremendous opportunities here for economic growth, including jobs. But not mining coal: that has to stop. Not fracking: that has to stop. Not in any of those areas. But in other, new areas, we could put millions of people to work AND slow this down, maybe even stop it, simultaneously. But that won't happen. We're going to strip-mine, we're going to drill, we're going to frack, we're going to roll back emissions requirements -- and a lot of people will do quite well as a result. But only for a while.

    If you doubt any of this, then don't waste your time arguing here: GO READ. Invest the time and energy that I have (and that others have) to actually understand the physics, the chemistry, the biology, the geology in play.

    (It never ceases to amaze me that people who use the Internet and cell phones and antibiotics and MRI scanners and satellite telecommunications and all the other goodies that science has delivered somehow think it's gotten all those things right...and somehow, inexplicably, gotten climate change completely wrong.)

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.