- A Republican-led group in Florida has begun circulating a petition for the 2016 election ballot that would allow solar owners to sell power directly to consumers, bypassing utilities, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
- Florida law currently stipulates that only utilities may sell energy directly to customers, but solar advocates argue their measure would open up the energy markets and boost solar production, which has stalled in the state in recent years.
- Floridians for Solar Choice, the group pushing the measure, must gain 683,149 signatures by Feb. 1, 2016 to get the proposal on the 2016 ballot. The measure would then need to pass with at least 60% of the vote.
Florida has been ground zero for battles between utilities and renewables advocates in recent months. In November, the state Public Service Commission terminated its solar rebate program and rolled back efficiency targets significantly.
Now, conservatives fed up with what they say is excessive utility control over Florida's energy generation have launched a campaign to allow solar owners to sell power directly to consumers.
The Tampa Bay Times reports the petition drive is led by Republican Tory Perfetti, a Tampa resident and head of Conservatives for Energy Freedom. His efforts are attracting support from across the political spectrum.
"I think the people understand that … the power companies have been running the show in Florida for too long," State Rep. Dwight Dudley (D-St. Petersburg), told the Times. "I'm very excited and happy they're doing it."
Environmentalists are expected to join the movement at an event on Jan. 14, and Perfetti is working with Georgia Tea Party leader Debby Dooley, who has found success in pushing regulators for more solar in her state.
"Conservatives will be out front on this to give Floridians choice and a voice," Dooley told the Times. "All too often, the only voice that is heard is the voice of these very powerful and deep-pocketed monopoly utilities."