- The Florida Supreme Court ruled today in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow third-party ownership of rooftop solar systems, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
- In order for the amendment to get on the ballot for the 2016 election, the wording of the amendment must be clear and contain a single subject, and the petition must receive over 680,000 signatures. The Supreme Court ruled the amendment's wording is clear and contains a single subject; the petition currently has 183,000 verified signatures.
- The amendment would allow small-scale suppliers to sell electricity directly to consumers without being classified as a utility.
Third party-owned solar could come to the Sunshine State if the proposed constitutional amendment gets on the ballot and passes in 2016. Today's court ruling effectively cleared a major hurdle for TPO solar in the state.
“[W]e conclude that the proposed amendment embraces a single subject and matter directly connected thewith, and that the ballot summary explaining the chief purpose of the measure is not clearly and conclusively defective,” according to the court's ruling.
The Floridians for Solar Choice, the group advocating for the proposed amendment, can now focus on their final obstacle -- obtaining enough petitions to land a spot on the 2016 election ballot. Their proposed constitutional amendment would open the door to competition from local rooftop solar suppliers in the state.
The proposed amendment would limit utilities' ability to "impair any customer's purchase or consumption of solar electricity" from a local supplier through special rates, fees or conditions of service. The amendment also ensures that local solar suppliers aren’t subject to state or local government regulation for rates, service and territory “between or among electric utilities.”
Supporters of the amendment said it help grow solar in the state, drive down electricity costs, and open up the market to competition with utilities. Opponents argue the ballot language is misleading, while utilities say the amendment would exempt third party providers from necessary regulations.
A dueling ballot initiative was introduced by Consumers for Smart Solar, which represents the interests of several former Democratic and Republican legislators, Florida Chamber of Commerce members, and at least one utility in Florida Power & Light. Their "Smart Solar Amendment" would allow Florida solar owners to sell their generation to Florida's utilities while ensuring there is no cost-shift on non-solar consumers.
Both amendments address whether or not Florida solar suppliers have the right to sell electricity directly to the customer.