Florida Voters Beware: Solar Energy Ballot Measure Is Worded To Trick You

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The following article appeared in American NewsX and can be seen here.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
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Florida Voters Beware: Solar Energy Ballot Measure Is Worded To Trick You

Why Floridians need to vote “No” on Solar Energy Amendment No. 1

October 17, 2016 Maryann Tobin Elections, News, Op/Ed, Politics 0


Solar Energy is seen as a threat to big power companies. That’s why Florida voters need to know that the solar energy amendment on their November ballot is not what it appears to be. Although the wording makes it seem that it will help consumers who want solar energy independence, it will do just the opposite.

Here’s why Floridians need to vote “No” on Solar Energy Amendment No 1

Ballot initiative “No. 1 Constitutional Amendment Article x, Section 29” actually gives power companies additional legal rights to penalize people who put up solar panels. It also expands the rights of power companies to protect their monopolies. You would never know it by the wording of the initiative and that appears to be deliberate.

Amendment No 1 reads as follows:

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 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.

The amendment is not expected to result in an increase or decrease in any revenues or costs to state and local government.

While it’s worded to sound like a great deal for consumers, it’s not. It’s essentially a free pass for power companies to scam the public.

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For the truth about this ballot initiative, all you need to do is follow the money.

From Ballotpedia:

The following is a list of those who contributed $100,000 or more to the campaign supporting the initiative. As of the end of September 2016, Gulf Power Company, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric Company, and Florida Power and Light had contributed $17.8 million of the $21.5 million raised by the campaign.

  • Tampa Electric Company
  • Gulf Power Company
  • Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy
  • Let’s Preserve the American Dream
  • National Black Chamber of Commerce
  • PowerSouth Energy Cooperative
  • Florida Power and Light Company
  • Duke Energy
  • 60 Plus Association, Inc.
  • Checks and Balances
  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
  • Floridians for a Stronger Democracy
  • Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition Inc.
  • Florida Prosperity Fund

News organizations throughout the Sunshine State are warning voters about the deceptive nature of amendment No. 1 and encouraging them to vote “No.”

The Sun Sentinel said:

Florida’s so-called Smart Solar amendment is “smart” only for the utility companies that have poured more than $20 million into this attempt to guarantee that they can keep their monopoly on consumer energy.

The amendment is meant to confuse Floridians, and the state’s Supreme Court never should have let it get on the ballot. We strongly urge voters to say “No” to Amendment 1.

The Palm Beach Post also warned against the measure:

The amendment, which is primarily bankrolled by Florida’s investor-owned utility companies, would preserve the status quo by placing Florida’s existing laws on solar energy into the state constitution, including the right of residents to own or lease solar energy panels and other equipment and the role of government to regulate. It also sets in the constitution the power of the state and local governments to ensure that the public is not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access for those who install solar equipment.

Pamela Goodman, president of the League of Woman Voters added, “Amendment 1 is a sham designed by the utilities to turn out the lights on solar in Florida.”

It should be noted that Florida Gov. Rick Scott has taken substantial donations from Big Polluters in his state, has rolled back Florida’s clean energy policies, and fought against solar energy choices for consumers.

If Floridians want to stop power companies from using the government to protect their monopolies and punish consumers who want to use solar panels, they need to vote “No” on amendment No. 1.

Get more information on Florida’s amendment No 1 at http://www.flsolarchoice.org/

For information on where and how to vote in your state, visit http://www.vote411.org/

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