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Solar Power in the Florida Primary Election

Solar power is an issue on the Florida primary ballot this August. Check out this information from Floridians for Solar Choice:

WHAT IS FLORIDIANS FOR SOLAR CHOICE? Floridians for Solar Choice, Inc. is a registered Florida political committee that is working for good solar policy in Florida, including legislative work and a ballot initiative. It’s a grassroots effort driven by a diverse coalition including Floridians from across the political spectrum and the business community. The coalition is fighting to give Floridians a VOICE and a CHOICE on energy in the Sunshine State.

YOU WILL BE ABLE TO VOTE FOR SOLAR IN THE FLORIDA AUGUST PRIMARY 

Keep an eye out for this item on August 30, and VOTE YES!Solar Power in the Florida Primary Election

This initiative would remove a barrier to solar by exempting the panels and other solar equipment from the real property tax and the onerous tangible property tax – currently huge barriers to solar in Florida. This policy will lower the cost of solar, increase clean energy jobs, and greatly expand solar development across the state!

This is what it will look like ON the ballot:
SOLAR DEVICES OR RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCE DEVICES; EXEMPTION FROM CERTAIN TAXATION AND ASSESSMENT.—Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to exempt from ad valorem taxation the assessed value of solar or renewable energy source devices subject to tangible personal property tax, and to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to prohibit consideration of such devices in assessing the value of real property for ad valorem taxation purposes. This amendment takes effect January 1, 2018, and expires on December 31, 2037.

This proposal started in the Florida Legislature during the recent session which concluded on March 11, 2016. Here is the background information on the related Senate and House bills:

Solar Tax Abatement Bills
SENATE
SJR 170: Renewable Energy Source Device – by Brandes
http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/0170

Implementing bill:
CS/SB 172: Renewable Energy Source Devices – by Brandes
http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/0172

HOUSE
HJR 193: Renewable Energy Source Devices & Components/Exemption from Certain Taxation & Assessment – by Rodrigues, R.; Berman
http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/0193

 Implementing bill:
HB 195: Renewable Energy Source Devices – by Rodrigues, R.; Berman
http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/0195


Other Current Solar Issues in Florida

Third Party Sales (bills were not heard in Senate or House in the last session)
SENATE
SB 1328: Energy Policy – by Altman
http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/1328

HOUSE
HB 687: Energy Policy – by Costello; Rehwinkel Vasilinda
http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/0687

Solar Permitting
FlaSEIA (one of the founding coalition members) is leading an effort to increase the Notice of Commencement threshold which would help cut red tape and expenses for small solar contractors. You can learn more about this from FlaSEIA here.

WHAT IS THE SOLAR BALLOT INITIATIVE? A broad coalition of businesses, conservatives and environmental organizations is collecting signatures to place a question on the ballot asking voters to decide on expanding solar choice to Florida’s families and businesses. The ballot initiative wouldremove a barrier that currently blocks clean, renewable solar power.

HOW DOES IT REMOVE A BARRIER TO SOLAR POWER? Florida is one of only four states that prohibit citizens from buying electricity from anyone other than a utility, along with North Carolina, Kentucky and Oklahoma (Georgia’s Governor Deal signed a third-party solar bill into law in May 2015 but this map hasn’t yet been updated to reflect that change). This prohibition limits customer choice and blocks the growth of this abundant, clean homegrown energy source. The petition, if passed, will expand solar choice by allowing all customers the option to power their homes or businesses with solar power and who provides it to them.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME? It can remove the upfront cost for solar power systems and expand solar power options to residential and commercial tenants – thereby expanding the choice for solar power to all Floridians. For instance, it will lead to more choices for homeowners to contract with companies that can provide solar power systems at no upfront cost and sell power directly to the customer at a long-term fixed rate; landlords will likewise be able to provide the economic benefits of solar power to tenants.

WHY THE SIZE LIMIT? The size of the system that can sell solar power is capped at 2 megawatts (MW) to coincide with the state’s “net metering” rule size limitation. Net metering is a policy that allows customer-owned solar power systems to interconnect with the utility distribution system (the grid). The largest rooftop system in Florida is on the Orange County Convention Center and is 1 MW in size. Therefore, customer-sited solar systems will fall well within this cap and it will allow for technological innovation that may one day allow customers to generate 2 MW worth of solar power on their property.

DOES THIS ESTABLISH A REQUIREMENT FOR SOLAR? No, this is not a mandate. This will also not raise any taxes. The petition simply removes barriers that will expand the choices of Floridians who want to power their homes and business with clean, renewable solar power.

WHY A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT? Bills to allow solar choice have been filed with the Florida Legislature the last 3 years but – due to the undue influence of monopoly power companies – they didn’t make it out of the legislative committees. The bills were never even granted a hearing. That’s why we must take the issue directly to the people. We are optimistic that our voices will are starting to be heard in the legislature as a direct result of this campaign as well, so we must keep fighting.

WHAT ARE THE ECONOMICS OF SOLAR FOR ME? A solar system will displace some of the electricity customers currently receive from their power company. The fuel for solar power is free. That means that once you have a solar system in place, your price for power will never increase. As utility-provided power rate increases, your solar rate will remain stable – providing more financial certainty for you in meeting your energy needs.

WHAT ARE THE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF SOLAR TO ME? Unlike conventional power generation, solar power generates electricity with zero air emissions and no water use, thereby moving us to a cleaner energy future for our kids and grandkids.

CAN’T I DO THIS ALREADY? While the cost of solar power is dropping dramatically, it still requires a significant upfront cost to install a solar system – currently only those that have the upfront capital to invest in solar power can enjoy the benefits. The petition, if passed, will open up the solar power option to all Floridians, by allowing you to contract with solar providers that can install the panels at no upfront cost to you. If you’re a renter, and have no roof space, your landlord can invest in solar and provide the power directly to you.

WILL THIS IMPACT REGULATION INTENDED TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC’S HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELFARE? No. The petition explicitly preserves the right for state and local regulation in the interest of public health, safety and welfare in electricity production.

WILL THIS IMPACT RELIABILITY OF THE ELECTRICITY GRID IN FL? No. In fact, customer-sited solar power can promote reliability by having the source of the power closer to the user, thereby relieving pressure from the transmission and distribution system. Further, with low levels of solar penetration in Florida, the Sunshine State has only about 6,000 customer-sited solar systems out of  more than 9 million energy customers.

Solar Power in the Florida Primary ElectionDO FLORIDIANS SUPPORT SOLAR? In a recent poll, 82% of Florida voters said they would support a proposal to change Florida’s current law and allow Floridians to contract directly with solar companies to power their homes or businesses with solar energy. Floridians clearly support solar power – but they are currently being denied their right to choose it as their power source. This is why Floridians for Solar Choice is bringing this issue directly to the people of Florida.

HOW CAN I HELP PROMOTE SOLAR CHOICE? Sign the petition and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Help us Unleash Solar in the Sunshine State!

Click here for a one page fact sheet on the Floridians for Solar Choice ballot initiative campaign.

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