When Solar Energy Legislation is Deceptive
It’s common practice to market new policies in the best light possible. In fact, many politicians use deceptively ambiguous language to hide their true intentions. Think back to George Bush’s Healthy Forest Initiative or Operation Enduring Freedom – programs that left forests less healthy and made freedom less accessible.

A similar thing is happening in the nation’s Sunshine State.

This election year, Floridians are being asked to vote on a ballot measure known as Amendment 1. And if you visit the unofficial page for this piece of solar energy legislation, there’s a handy guide that explains what the amendment does.

Apparently, it:

  1. Promotes solar in the Sunshine State.
  1. Protects Florida consumers from scams, rip-offs, and unfair subsidies.
  1. Guarantees your constitutional right to place solar panels on your home.

Who could be against any of that? This sounds like a great deal for Florida – and people should vote “yes” right?

Wrong.

What Does This Solar Energy Legislation Really Do?

According to the New York Times, Amendment 1 could potentially make it easier for utility companies to hike up fees on solar customers in the future. As a matter of fact, Florida’s biggest utilities have invested more than $20 million in a statewide marketing campaign designed to highlight the “benefits” of Amendment 1.

That the utilities are backing this should be a pretty clear indication this bill won’t help Florida’s solar industry. In most parts of the country, utilities and renewable energy advocates don’t get along.

Fortunately, most of the state’s newspapers oppose Amendment 1, as do:

  • Environmental groups
  • Solar stakeholders
  • Unions and labor groups
  • Former VP Al Gore

Even renowned singer, Jimmy Buffett, has voiced his opposition in a pretty funny video.

Unfortunately, Amendment 1 has a very good chance of passing. For despite widespread opposition to this legislation, the actual ballot itself is very cleverly worded. Anyone reading it would think that they are voting for the “right thing.”

Here’s how the ballot language reads:

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 the property to generate electricity for their own use. State and local governments shall retain their abilities to protect consumer rights and public health, safety, and welfare, and to ensure that consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize the cost of backup power and electric grid access to those who do.

Deceptive. Evil. Unfortunate.

The wording of Amendment 1 makes it sound like non-solar customers will have to pay extra. They’ll be forced to subsidize homeowners and businesses who do go solar.

And that’s just false.

Solar power doesn’t work like that. If anything, it helps reduce costs for everyone in that utility market because generating electricity becomes cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable. Study after study has confirmed this. And we’ve covered this topic in some of our own articles.

It’s sad that the Sunshine State lags behind the rest of the country when it comes to solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity. If they made installing panels easier, Florida could become the nation’s undisputed leader in renewable energy.

If you know anyone who lives in Florida, let them know what’s going on. And encourage them to vote “no” on Amendment 1.

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