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


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  1. identicon
    Teekrul, 16 Nov 2016 @ 12:22pm

    Re:

    Here's 2 ways they look at the subsidization...
    You and I are neighbors
    I have solar & I produce more power than I use.
    You don't have any solar.
    The power lines go down 2 blocks down the street. Since they make no money off me then the money they make off you (and the other 20 houses between us) goes to repairing those lines. Since the lines were fixed but i didn't pay into it then i was subsidized.
    And since I produce more power than i use, i sell my extra back to the pcompany. The pcompany then takes the money they made off you and gives it to me. subsidized again. In the long run they aren't making money off me and instead taking the money they got from you and paying me with it.

    You're bill doesn't go up (actually it could end up going down since more power is being produced than needed) because of my solar. Their profits go down which is what they are against.

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