- Florida Gov. Rick Scott last week reappointed one commissioner to the state's Public Service Commission and appointed two new members, including former legislator David Workman, who has previously opposed pro-solar initiatives.
- Scott reappointed Commissioner Art Graham for a term beginning next year and ending Jan. 1, 2022. He also appointed Gary Clark, the Deputy Secretary of Land and Recreation of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, to fill a vacant seat.
- But the controversial decision is replacing former Commissioner Ron Brisé with Workman, who in 2014 delayed voters considering a constitutional amendment to give businesses a tax exemption for installing solar equipment.
Brisé is a former Democratic lawmaker who Tampa Bay Times reports has been a critic of Florida Power & Light and pushed for more citizen input on transmission lines.
Workman, who will replace Brise when his term ends in January, has been seen as an ally of the utility industry, though the Miami Herald reports he has no experience working in the sector.
The Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) was critical of his appointment, pointing to Workman's part in delaying tax breaks for businesses installing clean energy projects for two years.
As chair of the Florida House Finance and Tax Committee, EPI reports he blocked voters from considering a solar tax proposal that was ultimately approved in August of 2016. The measure, codified into law this year, eliminated property taxes on solar panels installed at commercial and industrial facilities.
Looking ahead to Florida policy, Workman told the PSC nominating committee that solar energy issues are "going to cause the biggest heartburn because it’s not only an energy issue but is almost a social issue."
"FPL is growing their solar network daily," he said. "But you have to make sure you balance the need to move to renewable energy, which we do, making sure that the ratepayers aren’t overly burdened because it feels good to move to renewables.”
Despite Workman's skepticism of pro-solar policies, the industry may look to appeal to his sense of individual freedom, a common selling point for rooftop systems. Workman cited those convictions in his push to repeal Flordia's ban on "dwarf tossing" — reportedly a bar fad in the state — saying it was "another example of Big Brother government."
"I’m on a quest to seek and destroy unnecessary burdens on the freedom and liberties of people," he told the Palm Beach Post at the time.
Workman will begin his four-year term on Jan. 2, 2018.