In Florida, the sun may soon shine a little brighter on solar. The Sunshine State’s Supreme Court ruled yesterday in favor of the Floridians for Solar Choice proposed amendment to the state constitution. The amendment would allow third party ownership of rooftop solar.
Today, Florida is one of only four states where customers are legally prohibited from the purchase of power from any source other than an electric utility. This has kept third party solar companies, such as SolarCity and SunRun out of Florida.
The solar advocacy group proposed an amendment to the state constitution hoping to change this policy. The proposal was then challenged, accused of misleading language. However, the state Supreme Court ruled that the proposed amendment is unambiguous and single-subject.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that the court decision states, “As we explain, we conclude that the proposed amendment embraces a single subject and matter directly connected thewith, and that the ballot summary explaining the chief purpose of the measure is not clearly and conclusively defective.”
“We are thrilled with the high court’s ruling so that voters may have the opportunity to vote on removing a barrier that currently blocks Florida’s families and businesses from greater energy choices through the power of the free market,” said Tory Perfetti, Chairman of Floridians for Solar Choice. “People power is what will get us on the ballot, and we continue to gather thousands of signatures each week from Floridians eager for Solar Choice.”
Floridians for Solar Choice must now work to get 683,149 signatures collected and verified by February 1, 2016. The campaign already has over 183,000 verified signatures, with another 100,000 signed and awaiting verification.
SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch said, “As an organization – and as an industry – we strongly support the efforts of Floridians for Solar Choice…If this ballot initiative gains the voter approval it needs, solar development across the state will explode, creating thousands of new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in new economic activity. But most importantly, this is about consumer choice. That’s why this initiative is being supported by groups as diverse as the Sierra Club, the Christian Coalition of America, the Florida Retail Federation and the Tea Party Network. These groups all recognize, like we do, that people have a fundamental right to choose their energy source and have a real say in what they pay for their electricity.”
Florida is ranked 14th in the U.S. for installed solar capacity. There are currently 251 MW of installed solar capacity in Florida. However, Resch said, “Florida has the potential to quickly become a Top 5 solar state, while saving money for homeowners, businesses, schools, churches and local governments,” if the ballot initiative is approved next year.
The Executive Director of Florida SEIA, Mkie Antheil, said, “Solar energy is a powerhouse economic contributor in many other states, so we are thrilled that Florida may finally have a chance to catch up with the rest of the country…The solar industry in Florida is made up of small businesses, just like many other kinds of local contractors. We employ real Floridians and provide for real families. Solar energy is here to stay. Allowing consumers to choose solar power will create local jobs and keep our energy dollars right here in Florida.”
The Floridians for Solar Choice amendment has the backing of several solar and clean energy organizations including the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey/Welcome to Florida Sign