- A Florida lawmaker has proposed changes to a bill aimed at accelerating the growth of solar in the Sunshine State, alarming advocates who say new rules and restrictions could wind up slowing the industry.
- Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R) proposed a series of consumer protections similar to those in place in Arizona despite acknowledging that so far, there are no current problems with how solar installations are taking place. Those changes would require about 20 disclosure forms and changes to how savings are calculated.
- Voters approved Amendment 4 with almost 75% in favor last August, opting to nix property taxes on solar panels installed at commercial and industrial facilities, which later led to a bill slowly advancing through the state Senate. The newspaper said that while the bill continues to move forward, other lawmakers expressed concern over the provisions.
Solar advocates say the consumer protections Rodrigues wants to put in place would slow solar's growth in Florida, but the lawmaker argues he just wants to get ahead of potential problems. The changes include penalties for companies selling panels if they fail to comply with the restrictions, which some believe are too complicated.
For instance, the law proposes that if a solar agreement contains an estimate of the buyer's or lessee's future utility charges based on projected utility rates after the installation of a system, the solar company must "provide an estimate of the buyer's or lessee's estimated utility charges during the same period as impacted by potential utility rate changes ranging from at least a 5-percent annual decrease to at least a 5-percent annual
increase from current utility costs."
Tesla lobbyist Jeff Sharkey told the Herald, “This goes way too far." On the other hand, Rodrigues says it is was known in the solar industry that he was looking to include protections based on existing Arizona law.
Florida voters have been choosing in favor of renewable energy. The ballot measure to eliminate property taxes on solar panels had wide support from business groups and clean energy advocates alike: The amendment had more than 200 endorsements, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Florida Realtors and Florida Conservation Voters,.
Voters in Florida in November also rejected a measure widely-seen as a possibly slowing the state's solar industry: That measure would have ensured that third-party ownership of distributed solar remained illegal, and many saw it as a way to enshrine utilities' monopoly over solar energy