Advocate: Utility-backed Bill jeopardizes Florida’s rooftop solar

TAMPA (CNN) – A bill passed by the Florida Legislature and backed by Florida Power and Light would cut the economic benefits of rooftop solar panels.

solar powered outdoor lights

solar powered outdoor lights
Opponents of the legislation — including environmental groups, solar builders and the NAACP — say if it passes, a fast-growing green power industry will be shut down overnight, giving the Sunshine State’s The solar outlook is clouded over.
Former Navy SEAL Steve Rutherford helped the military harness the power of the sun while serving in Afghanistan.The solar panels he installed convert the relentless light of the desert into energy and keep the base running even when disconnected from the diesel lines.
When he retired from the military in 2011, Rutherford predicted that Florida would be a better place to install solar panels than war-torn Afghanistan.He started Tampa Bay Solar, which he grew into a 30-person business within a decade, with plans to expand.But now, the retired commander says, he is fighting for a living.
“This is going to be a big hit for the solar industry,” said Rutherford, who predicted he would have to lay off most of his staff.”For the 90% of people who work for me, it’s going to be a major blow to their wallets.”
Across the country, the promise of energy independence, cleaner power and lower electricity bills has lured thousands of customers to solar.Its popularity has threatened the business model of traditional utilities, which for decades depended on customers who had no choice but to nearby power companies.
The effects of the struggle are being felt strongly in Florida, where sunlight is an abundant commodity and residents face an existential crisis from climate change.A bill being considered by Florida lawmakers would make it one of the least welcoming of residential solar in the country and would eliminate thousands of skilled construction jobs, solar industry insiders said.
“That means we’re going to have to close our Florida operations and move to another state,” Vision Solar chief marketing officer Stephanie Provost told the legislation at a recent committee hearing​​​ By.
At issue is how much solar homes are compensated for the excess energy the panels pump back into the grid.This is an arrangement called net metering, which is the law in about 40 states.Some customers generate enough electricity to drop their utility bills to zero dollars.

solar powered outdoor lights

solar powered outdoor lights
Like many states, Florida homeowners are reimbursed for roughly the same fee that the utility charges customers, usually in the form of a credit on their monthly bill.Republican Senator Jennifer Bradley, who represents parts of northern Florida, has introduced legislation that could reduce that rate by about 75% and open the door for utilities to charge solar customers a monthly minimum fee .
According to Bradley, the existing rate structure was created in 2008 to help launch rooftop solar in Florida.She told the Senate committee that non-solar homes were now subsidizing a “mature industry with many competitors, large public companies and significantly reduced prices”.
Despite the recent growth, solar still lags many states in Florida’s foothold.About 90,000 homes use solar energy, accounting for 1 percent of all electricity users in the state.According to an industry analysis by the Solar Energy Industries Association, a national trade group for solar builders, Florida ranks 21st nationally for solar residential systems per capita.By contrast, California — where regulators are also considering changes to its net metering policy, backed by utilities — has 1.3 million customers with solar panels.
Advocates of rooftop solar in Florida see a familiar enemy behind the legislation: FPL, the state’s largest electric utility and one of the state’s most prolific political donors.
According to an email first reported by the Miami Herald and provided to CNN by the Institute for Energy and Policy Research, a draft bill introduced by Bradley, which was provided to her by FPLt lobbyists on October 18 Regulators of fuel and utility interests..
Two days later, FPL’s parent company, NextEra Energy, donated $10,000 to the Women Building the Future, a Bradley-affiliated political committee, according to state campaign finance records.The committee received another $10,000 in donations from NextEra in December, the records show.
In an emailed statement to CNN, Bradley did not mention political donations or utility companies’ involvement in drafting the legislation.She said she submitted the bill because “I believe it’s good for my constituents and for the country.”
“Not surprisingly, requiring utilities to buy electricity at the same price it sells is a poor model, leaving solar customers unable to pay their fair share to support the operation and maintenance of the grid they use and which utilities are required by law to provide ,” she said in a statement.

Post time: Jan-25-2022