$43 Million Spent to Deceive Floridians and Stop Solar

amendment1-lies

Lost in the tumultuous presidential election and the down-ballot fears, something big has been happening quietly in Florida this year: Electric companies have dropped $42.7 million into political campaigns.

The Miami Herald has published this information on Amendment 1.  This article can be read in its entirety at this link.

Read to the end to see those who have received money from the utilities.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life:  once taken, it cannot be brought back-


 

Florida’s utility industry gambit: $43 million to influence legislature and stall rooftop solar

Lost in the tumultuous presidential election and the down-ballot fears, something big has been happening quietly in Florida this year: Electric companies have dropped $42.7 million into political campaigns.

Since January 2015, $20 million of the industry’s profits went to finance and promote Amendment 1, the ballot initiative that attempts to frustrate the expansion of consumer-owned rooftop solar in Florida, but another $15 million more went to fuel the campaigns of a select group of powerful legislative leaders in an effort to prepare for a prolonged war against rooftop solar.

The bulk of the money is being used to promote Amendment 1 but, if that effort fails, the industry is also investing heavily into the Legislature to create favorable conditions in Florida, as utilities have in other states, to push back against the proliferation of rooftop solar.

In other states, that effort has included attempts to make solar less economically feasible by reducing the amount the utility spends to reimburse customers for generating excess electricity to the grid through “net metering,” imposing new fees on solar users and pre-empting local governments from opening the door to more solar competition.

Former Florida U.S. Senator Bob Graham blasted the amendment Tuesday as “deceptive” and unneeded and, if approved, will be a harmful step “backwards” for the state’s energy future.

According to Division of Elections reports, the biggest spender on the effort is Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest electric utility, which has poured $22.2 million into political campaigns this cycle — $14.2 million into state legislative campaigns, and $8 million to Consumers For Smart Solar, the utility-backed political committee promoting amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Duke Energy, the St. Petersburg-based company and the state’s second largest utility, spent $6.6l million on legislative campaigns and another $6.7 million promoting Amendment 1. Tampa Electric Co., the third largest utility, has pumped $4.7 million into the political system, including $3.8 million for the amendment, and Gulf Power has invested $2.5 million, including $2.2 million to the political committee backing the amendment.

By comparison, records show Florida’s sugar industry spent $57.8 million over 20 years to dominate legislative policy. The electric utilities will have spent three-fourths of that in a single year.

The candidates whose political committees benefitted most from the money were all Republicans: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who accepted more than $381,000; Sen. Bill Galvano, who got $101,000 and Sen. Wilton Simpson, who received $98,000.

The utility-backed political committee and its surrogate spokespeople have promoted Amendment 1 as a “pro solar” initiative but, rather than open the state to more solar, the amendment asks voters to inject new language into the Constitution that will serve as a barrier to entry for any company that attempts to compete with the utility giants in providing solar energy in Florida. More here. 

Here’s the list of solar contributors by company, and the individual campaigns that have collected the most money from the utility investment:

SOLAR CASH

Florida four largest electric utilities have spent $34.2 million so far this election cycle, including $20.7 million for Consumers for Smart Solar, CSS, the political committee promoting Amendment 1. (The committee has raised another $6 million from non-profits and special interest political committees that have received substantial funding from the utility industry.)

Top utilities’ contributions

▪ FPL: $22.2 million total, $8 million to CSS

▪ Duke Energy: $13.3 million total, $6.7 million to CSS

▪ Gulf Power: $2.5 million total, $2.2 million to CSS

▪ Tampa Electric Co: $4.7 million total, $3.8 million to CSS

Contributions to groups by FPL and Duke Energy

▪  Associated Industries of Florida and its affiliated committees: $1.57 million from FPL and $100,000 from Duke Energy

▪  Florida Chamber and its affiliated committees: $1.5 million from FPL and $1.5 million from Duke Energy

▪  Florida Democratic Party: $61,517 from FPL and $6,650 from Duke Energy

▪  Republican Party of Florida: $340,000 from FPL, $257,900 from Duke (the fund is controlled by House leaders)

▪  Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee: $175,000 from FPL and $290,000 from Duke Energy

▪  House Republican Campaign Committee: $50,000 from Duke Energy

Contributions to individuals FPL, Duke Energy

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Florida Grown PC: FPL $281,275, Duke $100,000

Sen Bill Galvano, R-Sarasota, Innovate Florida PC: FPL $50,000, Duke $51,000

Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, Jobs for Florida PC: FPL $58,000, Duke $40,000

Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, Treasure Coast Alliance PC: FPL $82,500

Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, Growing Florida’s Future PC: FPL $79,999

Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, Friends of Dana Young PC: FPL $10,000, Duke $31,000

Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Lakes, Building a Majority PC: FPL $25,000, Duke $20,000

Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Orlando, Committee for Justice PC, Transportation: FPL $30,000, $11,000

Rep. Jamie Grant, R-Tampa, Floridians for Liberty and Innovation PC: Duke $21,000

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, Florida Leadership Committee PC: FPL $5000, Duke $14,829

Rep. Kionne McGhee, D-Fort Lauderdale, Florida Standing United PC: FPL $17,500

Rep. Jim Boyd. R-Sarasota, Building on Your Dreams PC: Duke $13,500

Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, Floridians for a Strong Economy PC: $12,000

Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, Rebuild Florida PC: Duke $11,000

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, Protect Florida Families PC: FPL $10,000

Rep. Loranne Ausley, D-Tallahassee, Florida 2020 PC: FPL $10,000

Gov. Rick Scott, Let’s Get to Work PC: FPL $10,000

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, Free Enterprise Fund and Economic Freedom Foundation PCs: FPL $20,000, Duke $10,000

Rep. Tom Goodson, R-Daytona Beach, Paving Florida’s Future PC: FPL $10,000

Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Naples, Free Markets for Florida PC: FPL $5,000, Duke $4,500

Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, Working for Florida’s Families: FPL $1,457 in in-kind contributions, Duke $5,000

Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, Floridians for Strong Leadership: FPL $5,800, Duke $1,000

Lauren Book, D-Fort Lauderdale, Leadership for Broward PC: FPL $5,000

Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, Veterans for Conservative Principles PC: FPL $2,500, Duke $1,000

Rep. Halsey Beshears, R-Monticello, Florida Patriot Fund PC: FPL $2,500

 This post has been updated to reflect property committee names. 

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