There is a wolf in green clothing on the ballot for Nov. 8.
If you’re not an expert in renewable energy and fluent in the doublespeak of legislation, Amendment 1 comes across like the kind of warm, fuzzy, no-brainer that deserves a ‘yes’ vote without a moment’s hesitation.
Don’t be fooled. It’s bad policy designed to line the already-overflowing pockets of Big Energy, which inexplicably expects us to believe that the Koch brothers, Florida Power & Light, ExxonMobil, Gulf Power Company and Duke Energy, which have all donated sums ranging from a couple hundred grand to $5.5 million to back the amendment, have suddenly reversed course and poured money into energy policy that actually helps consumers and the environment.
If you believe that, Folio Weekly has a bridge to Neverland to sell you.
Titled “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice,” Amendment 1’s summary reads thusly:
This amendment establishes a right under Florida’s constitution for consumers to own or lease solar equipment installed on their 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 costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do. [Emphasis added]
Amendment 1 is so garbled and misleading that it barely survived the Florida Supreme Court’s review of its wording. Dissenting, Justice Barbara Pariente pointed out that not only is the amendment “[m]asquerading as a pro-solar energy initiative” and “affirmatively misleading,” it was originally crafted in an effort to quash another amendment backed by actual grassroots organization Floridians for Solar Choice, which would have allowed you to sell a limited amount of power to your neighbors. Due to a dispute with the company FSC hired to collect signatures, that amendment didn’t make it on the ballot.
And yet Amendment 1 persists with the word ‘choice’ hanging desperately — and inaccurately — from its tail like a chad of yester-election.
Here’s what Amendment 1 actually does:
It pointlessly establishes a right that Floridians currently have to buy and lease solar panels for private use.
It then gives your local government even more power to regulate your use of solar power. Clearly a no-good, very bad idea. Just think: Today they’ll draft sympathy postcards for the Pulse Orlando shooting that somehow omit any mention of ‘gay’ or ‘LGBT,’ tomorrow they’ll tackle renewable energy policy! Riiiggghhhtt.
And for the coup de grâce, Amendment 1 gives utilities the right, even, potentially, the obligation, to decimate net metering, the policy by which utilities reimburse individuals who provide energy to the grid from their solar energy systems.
It’s a big, fat, eff u! to citizens who invest in solar power. As in, ‘You thought you were going to get reimbursed fairly for the power you provided to your utility company that it sold to your friends and neighbors?’ EFF U!
[If you think changes to net metering are no big deal, recall the sunny days of winter when JEA pissed off half the county by trying to slash the rate it paid under net metering, only reversing course after citizens, advocates and a certain alt weekly came at them full tilt with an eff u! of our own. (“Sticking It to Solar,” Feb. 16, “What’s the Cost of Solar?” March 9)]
The amendment makes much ado about some people subsidizing, that is, paying for, the upkeep of the electric grid while those freewheeling solar freaks suck and blow, suck and blow energy at will without paying a red cent for upkeep of the grid. Never mind the fact that a paltry 8,500 of Florida’s consumers were using solar power to generate electricity as of 2014. And never mind the fact that a slim percentage of those 8,500 actually produce enough electricity for their own households, let alone their neighbors’. And never mind the fact that we’re killing the damn planet with our reliance on fossil fuels or that numerous reputable studies have shown that net metering customers are not subsidized by the rest of us.
’Cause clearly all that matters is that Big Energy gets to preserve its right to bigger and bigger paydays by pushing through a bullshit amendment that just might kill the fledgling solar energy market in the Sunshine State.
Armed with more than $21 million of Big Energy cashola and a crib sheet of buzzwords designed to appeal to voters to the left, right and center, Consumers for Smart Solar (deceptive name much?) is pushing Amendment 1 hard in a campaign it calls ‘Yes for 1 for the Sun’ and denying that it will cripple the solar energy industry in the state or give local governments powers they are not equipped to wield.
Don’t be fooled. Vote ‘no’ on Amendment 1.