Green Tea Coalition opposes solar bill in Florida Senate
- New legislation in the Florida Senate, SB1118, would allow an owner of a commercial or industrial business or a contracted third party to install rooftop solar and sell the electricity generated to other parties. State Sen. Jeff Brandes (R) introduced the bill earlier this week, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
- A coalition of solar advocates — which includes Conservatives for Energy Freedom and Floridians for Solar Choice, the NAACP, The Tea Party Network, and Sierra Club Florida — says the bill undermines their effort to take that decision to Florida’s voters via a ballot petition nearing official approval for the 2016 election.
- The ballot petition, like the bill, would remove barriers blocking Florida solar owners from selling solar energy-generated electricity directly to other consumers. The coalition backing it argues SB1118 permits regulated utilities to participate in such sales without regulation, imposes uneconomically high interconnection fees on solar owners, and gives the state Public Service Commission control over solar deployment.
Florida is one of only five states that expressly deny the right to buy solar-generated electricity directly from someone other than a utility. By permitting that, the petition opens the state to third party ownership (TPO) financing.
TPO funding allows solar to be hosted by roof owners and owned by third party funders. The arrangement allows the roof owner to host a system without upfront costs or maintenance responsibilities. It allows the third parties to participate in solar's financial benefits.
The size of the system allowed by the petition to sell solar is capped at 2 MW, which matches Florida’s cap on the system size eligible for net energy metering.
"We are opposing SB1118 very strongly as written," Atlanta Tea Party Patriots Co-Chair Debbie Dooley told the Tampa Bay Times, “I predicted several months ago that the government created utilities would push to have legislation introduced in an attempt to weaken the people's ballot initiative."
- Tampa Bay Times Sen. Brandes files solar energy bill; solar coalition opposes it