- A new bipartisan group in Florida has announced a new ballot initiative aimed at boosting solar power in the state and countering a rival proposal already in the works by the group Floridians for Solar Choice.
- Consumers for Smart Solar, led by former First Coast Tea Party Executive Director Billy Tucker, former Florida Public Service Commission Chair Matthew Carter, and two former state lawmakers, will seek enough petition signatures to qualify a 2016 ballot measure that would change Florida’s solar laws.
- The group’s measure would allow Florida solar owners to sell their generation to the state’s utilities and guarantee there will be no cost-shift to non-solar owners. It would not, like the ballot measure long in the works by Floridians for Solar Choice, allow for third party sales of electricity. That proposal would allow solar owners to sell up to 2 MW of power per day to customers on the same or neighboring properties.
Consumers for Smart Solar say the are "pro solar" and call the other effort a "power grab" by out-of-state solar companies. Members of Floridians for Solar Choice include the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Florida Retail Federation, Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, the Ecology Party of Florida, the Evangelical Environmental Network, the Sierra Club Florida, the Space Coast Climate Change Initiative and The Tea Party Network.
Other opponents to the ballot measure proposed by Floridians for Solar Choice are Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, the Florida League of Cities, and electric utilities Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric Co., and Gulf Power. Other leaders include former Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Screven Watson, former state Rep. Dick Batchelor, and Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Julio Fuentes.
To qualify for the November 2016 ballot, either measure must have 683,149 signatures validated by the state Division of Elections. The newer group has just begun the signature-collecting process. Floridians for Solar Choice has submitted 99,298 valid signatures. It expects to need $10 million for the election, but has so far raised only $354,953.
The new ballot initiative from Consumers for Smart Solar reads as follows (per SaintPetersBlog):
Rights of electricity consumers regarding solar energy choice
This amendment establishes a right under Florida’s constitution for consumers to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use. State and local governments shall retain the ability to protect consumer rights and public health and safety, and to ensure that consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do.
Petition language for Floridians for Solar Choice can be found on its website.