Experts say solar amendment is misleading, not pro-solar

Posted at 10:43 PM, Oct 18, 2016
Clean energy experts say a "yes" vote on Amendment 1 is not as pro-solar as it may appear. 
An ad paid for by Consumers for Smart Solar, a group backed by utility and fossil-fuel companies, states "Florida needs more solar, so lets do it the right way. This November vote 'Yes' on 1 for the sun."
While the group touts the amendment as a win for consumers, solar energy experts say the Florida Solar Energy Subsidies and Personal Solar Use Initiative, or Amendment One, isn't the right way for people interested in going green. 
The ad suggests a "yes" vote on the solar energy initiative would expand your rights as an energy consumer. 
"The name of it alone makes it sound as if it's in support of solar and it's not," said Melissa DeRoso, the operations manager of FafcoSolar Energy in Cape Coral. "Smart Solar is not smart," added Deroso.
"It was very misleading and deceptive," she said.  
The amendment has two main points; The first would put your right to install solar panels on your home in the state constitution. A right you currently have under Florida statue.  
The second portion of the amendment; however, is a cause for concern to anyone interested in clean energy, according to Deroso.   "The second part of it is where they pave the way for all these barriers that'll penalize solar customers and ultimately they'll black the sun for solar on the Sunshine State," said Deroso.
The amendment says it protects consumers from having to pay subsidies for solar energy production, but clean energy experts say this wording actually paves the way for utility companies to charge solar users. An effort to make up for the money power companies stand to lose from customers who opt for solar energy.
"If they allow this language into the constitution it will give the big monopoly utilities free reign to discriminate against customers who generate their own power and don't use as much from them," said Steve Smith, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
According to the Energy and Policy Institute, almost $22 million was put behind the effort to get the solar energy amendment on November's ballot.
A portion of the funding came from major utility companies such as Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy and Gulf Power. 
"The first red flag is the amount of money that is being poured into this amendment by the large Florida utility companies" said Deroso.
For more information from opponents of Amendment One click here