- Floridians for Solar Choice (FSC) said it will continue working to get the 683,149 petition signatures it needs by January to put its proposed measure on the state’s November 2016 ballot but, recognizing the logistical challenge, it has begun thinking about positioning for the 2018 election.
- The group has over 271,000 validated signatures and another 212,000 yet to be confirmed that endorse its proposal to legalize solar leasing in Florida. Signatures remain validated for 24 months. The utility-backed Consumers for Smart Solar (CSS) opposes FSC's proposal and has offered its own ballot measure.
- FSC has raised $1.94 million, mostly from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE). CSS has raised $5.9 million, in large part from investor-owned utilities. Its contributors include Florida Power and Light and Duke Energy (over $1 million each), Tampa Electric Company ($841,000), and Gulf Power ($640,000).
FSC announced it is “exploring options for 2018” after a dispute with PCI Consulting, the company FSC is said to have paid over $1 million to secure signed petitions. PCI reportedly said it would withhold signed petitions because of hundreds of thousands of dollars in non-payments.
FSC has been called a Green Tea coalition because it includes the Tea Party Network, Republican conservatives, and the Sierra Club, in addition to being led by SACE.
“We are trying to open up the market so Florida’s families and businesses will have the option of powering their homes and workplaces with solar power,” SACE Action Fund Florida Energy Policy Attorney George Cavros told Utility Dive.
CSS is a coalition representing former Democratic and Republican legislators, several Florida Chambers of Commerce, conservative consumers, and the Florida utilities. The CSS Smart Solar Amendment “makes it a right under Florida’s constitution for consumers to own or lease solar equipment to generate their own electricity,” CSS Co-Chair Dick Batchelor wrote to Utility Dive.
The FSC proposal is designed to "limit or prevent governement and electric utility imposed barriers to supplying local solar electricity." It would legalize third party ownership of distributed solar in Florida and allow customers with systems of 2 MW or less to sell electricity directly to other consumers.
The CSS proposal would establish a constitutional right in Florida for customers "to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use," according to the official summary of the ballot measure. It would not, however, legalize third party ownership, a major priority of solar installers in the state.