How to Help Defeat Amendment 1 and Promote Solar

http://www.claytodayonline.com/stories/water-conservation-stakeholder-committee-forming-in-keystone,4303 Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2016 11:43 am  Jesse Hollett KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – The Keystone Heights City Council and other entities have begun to arrange key stakeholders for a committee dedicated to the creation and vetting of water conservation methods for the Upper Floridan Aquifer. Legislative leaders and water conservation experts joined city and county officials along with concerned citizens Tuesday in the Keystone Heights City Hall to discuss how to abate the growing issues with low water levels in Keystone lakes and other exhausted water bodies in the region. Despite a few concrete plans and concepts from the Save Our Lakes Organization, the largest advocates for the weakened Keystone Heights lakes, none of the representatives in the room Tuesday were ready to move forward with any plan, citing the burdens of cost and unreliability of SOLOs unvetted concepts. It was a consensus that a committee of key representatives from county, municipal and water management districts would provide a better sense of accountability for SOLOs projects as well as assist in the creation of new projects. However, a basic fact hung in the minds of those in the room and the close to 60 people sitting in chairs outside the hall – something needed to be done. “This city council that sits before you today is a team,” said Mayor Tony Brown. “Ever since we’ve had this team, water is our issue. Living here all my life, my kids didn’t have the benefit of seeing our Keystone Beach or our Lake Brooklyn.” Keystone Heights beach, essentially the shore of Lake Geneva, dried up five years ago. When it did, the shopping district on South Lawrence Boulevard lost a core set of customers coming from Gainesville and other surrounding areas to enjoy the locale. For decades, water levels have fluctuated in the Etonia Chain of lakes that incorporate Lake Geneva and Lake Brooklyn. The flows in these lakes are mostly dependent on rainfall. The lakes are also a major recharge area for the Floridan aquifer. In a report by Tampa based Senior Hydrogeologist Peter Schreuder, he argues that pumping from the aquifer has caused a significant enough decrease in the aquifer to affect both lakes. “Imagine a bathtub,” Schreuder said. “Now imagine the bathtub is overflowing over the top. People start to dip their cups into the bathtub to drink, to sell to people, for agriculture – and that level starts to get lower and lower. The showerhead was putting water in the bathtub, but now we’re taking more cups out than the showerhead, which is the rain, can put in.” In 2001, Schreuder worked with the St. Johns River Water Management District and then District 19 Florida House of Representatives member Joe Pickens to help evaluate the problems in Lake Geneva where it was believed mining operations had reduced the flow of the lakes. One of the many strategies outlined in Schreuder’s report was to store water on Camp Blanding property and use fine sands created from the old DuPont mining operation to filter the water. From there the water can flow into the Etonia Chain or even into the Sante Fe Wetlands for the Suwanee River. “It breaks my heart when I drive over that bridge and see the water...but that all being said I can care about it and it can be personal but what I see is a lot of people who’ve heard a lot of words and want action,” said Senator Rob Bradley. “The reality that we work in is that there are a lot of stakeholders…I’m committed to have actionable items that are included to make this thing move forward, but understand that our laws are built so that these things have to be vetted, there’s a difference between concepts and actionable items. Now we need scientists and engineers to bring pencil to paper and bring me a project.”  “We want to walk out of this room with a project to move forward,” said Vivian Katz, SOLO president. We’re giving you something to move forward on – we’ve got to have this, this community has to have this. I feel like Save Our Lakes has reached a point – we’ve given you everything we can give you, but we’re limited as a nonprofit organization. We need your help. You see the community, you see the damage that’s been done.”  However, SOLO has proposed other projects that were shot down that could have rehydrated the ailing lakes. The Alligator Creek Enhancement Strategy involved installing a pipeline in Lowry Lake located on Camp Blanding property to drain water down into Alligator Creek and through the Etonia Chain of Lakes.  The water could have then flowed into Lake Geneva and Lake Brooklyn, rehydrating them and restoring the lost property value for homes circumventing the lakes.  SJRWMD allocated $250,000 in funding for the ACES project. Katz suggested the money could go to funding future projects.  The City of Keystone Heights budgets $10,000 a year solely for the restoration of the lakes. The city also gets $40,000 annually from the county. Katz suggested that money could also accumulate and pay for a civil engineer to vet the plans. Katz then suggested SJRWMD could place a request for proposal out using the money accumulated to find a qualified civil engineer.  Because SJRWMD projects are co-funded, representatives from the water district batted away Katz’ ideas primarily because no one else in the audience spoke up to show their financial support.  “In our process, we co-fund construction, so you have to have the applicant bring the designed and permitted project, or something that is moving positively towards that,” said SJRWMD Executive Director Ann Shortelle, who has a doctorate degree in limnology from the University of Notre Dame. “That’s sort of where we’re stuck, so I understand that, but we’re not setup to take that on for our 18 counties.” With so many movers and shakers in one room, there was a surprising amount of stagnation in identifying measurable steps to solve issues that, for many in Keystone, lie right in their backyards. Among many reasons, the chief reason seemed to be Schreuder’s ideas did not include a concrete price for the buildout of his suggestions.  Although a committee doesn’t exactly qualify as a project, it will help to one day identify and vet a project which, if enough funding trades hands, could remedy the lakes.  If a project does move forward, representatives from Camp Blanding said they would do everything they could to support the projects and rehydrate the lakes as long as its waterborne training exercises are not inhibited in anyway.
If you want to help solar for all in Florida and get rid of dirty fossil fuel, read the following announcement sent out by Susan Glickman of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Action Fund.
————————————
Alllies:
 
With less than 3 weeks to go before the November 8th election, it’s crunch time. I know how busy everyone is but we have a rare opportunity to make strides for solar energy in the State of Florida. If we all do what we can, we can turn back the deceptive campaign being run by the big monopoly utilities and send a powerful message.
 
Speaking of deceptive campaigns, just today in the news, the tactics of the misleading effort have been exposed in the Miami Herald thanks to research from the Energy and Policy Institute. Even Elon Musk got in on the act when he sent a message about the story out on Twitter so it’s getting serious attention. Last week, former Vice President Al Gore blasted Amendment 1 when he appeared at an event in Miami with Hillary Clinton,
 
The No on 1 campaign has done a tremendous job amassing support with 160+ organizations and elected officials signed on in opposition to Amendment 1. Most recently, Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of the nation’s preeminent consumer protection organization Consumer Reports has joined the chorus. Also the Tea Party Network, the Winter Park Garden Club and the Everglades Coalition – comprised of almost 60 organizations – are on board. Lastly, former State Senator Mike Fasano is on board as well. A complete list can be found at Endorsements
What’s more, No on 1 now has 19 newspaper editorial endorsements. A compilation is attached.
Here’s how you can help the No on 1 effort over the next 3 weeks.
We can use volunteers for early voting and on Election Day to work the polls. We know that many people will be voting and not have any idea of what Amendment 1 is or what it does. We can make a difference there. Also, we have a Phone Banking program where your members and networks can plug in. Email me and I can put you in touch with the appropriate staff leading those efforts.
If you haven’t already, please send an email blast out to your members, networks as well as friends and family. Less than 700,000 voters have returned their ballots and we expect 7 or 8 million people to vote, so now is the time. Sample email language, social media posts, and logos/graphics are available here: http://www.flsolarchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/No-On-1-toolkit-intro-final.pdf. We have NoOn1 materials and resources like palm cards, fact sheets, and more, here:http://www.flsolarchoice.org/amendment1/resources/
Don’t hesitate to call if you have any ideas or questions.
Thanks again,
Susan
Susan Glickman

Florida Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Action Fund
727-742-9003
Here is the list of newspaper endorsements:

 

Times recommends: Vote no on anti-solar Amendment 1 (October 14, 2016)

“Amendment 1 is a solar scam, and all of the millions being spent by the utility companies to protect their bottom line won’t change that. This campaign is bought and paid for by the biggest electric companies in Florida — Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric Co. and Gulf Power — that have contributed nearly all of the $21 million to confuse voters, protect their market share and prolong the delay of more affordable and cleaner energy options. On Amendment 1, the Tampa Bay Times recommends voting no.”

 

Editorial: No on solar-energy amendment  (October 9, 2016)

“This is a utility-backed amendment that seeks to shut down consumers’ free-market choices. Here’s what’s at the root of this amendment: Allowing homeowners and businesses to sell excess solar energy they produce. That’s competition that the utilities want to thwart. We recommend NO on Amendment 1.”

 

‘No’ on solar: Endorsements 2016 (October 8, 2016)

“Labeled “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice,” this amendment has been heavily bankrolled by Florida’s electric utilities. Regardless, cementing current policies into the Florida Constitution would be especially ill-advised in an area evolving as quickly as solar energy. The technology for generating it, storing it and distributing is changing. So are federal policies surrounding its use. This is an area better left to policy makers to address and revisit as often as necessary through laws and regulations. Vote no.”

 

 

Editorial: Vote No on solar-power amendment (October 11, 2016)

“Amendment 1 is a con. And you, the voter, are the intended mark. Titled, “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy,” it looks for all the world like a measure to help spread solar energy across Florida. But in reality, it’s a ploy by the large utility companies to protect their dominance of the energy market. If you want to speed the day when you can put an affordable solar panel on your roof, reject this cynical ballot measure. Vote no on Amendment 1.”

 

Vote “NO” on shady, not smart, solar amendment (September 30, 2016)

“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.”

 

Editorial: Solar amendment  (October 7, 2016)

“The Florida Supreme Court only approved the ballot language by a 4-3 vote. One of the minority votes, Justice Barbara Pariente, said the language is misleading. For instance, the word “subsidize” is open to all kinds of interpretations. All of this controversy is a perfect reason to oppose the amendment. The Legislature is the place to sort out all of the arguments, not dueling Constitutional amendments..”

 

Editorial: Oppose Amendment 1 (October 3, 2016)

“Amendment 1 barely met the threshold for placement on Florida’s general election ballot. That alone should make voters highly skeptical of the initiative. The only “choice” for Floridians to make in this statewide referendum is between voting for or opposing an unnecessary, misleading initiative. We recommend voting NO, against Amendment 1.”

 

Editorial: With light shed on Amendment 1, vote ‘no’ (October 16, 2016)

“Eye-catching ads call for Floridians to support “one for the sun” to bring more solar to the Sunshine State where it’s sorely lacking. This is one that Floridians shouldn’t favor, however. If approval simply puts us where we are today, as both sides battling over this amendment seemed to acknowledge in separate meetings with our editorial board, we question why we’re even having a vote. We urge a “no” vote on Amendment 1.”

 

Editorial: Amendment 1 is a sham (October 15, 2016)

“But one of the biggest distortions voters will see on their ballots in November was homegrown right here in the Sunshine State. We’re talking about Amendment 1. Forget whatever you’ve heard. The amendment has nothing to do with solar energy in Florida. It is simply a confusing and deceptive chunk of legalistic language that has absolutely no place in the state constitution. It would accomplish nothing for the people of Florida. In fact, it’s ridiculous that the measure even made it on the ballot to begin with. We recommend that you vote “no” on this shady sham of a constitutional amendment.”

 

Our choices for Nov. 8 election: No on solar (October 9, 2016)

“If approved, with at least 60 percent of the vote, the amendment would allow consumers “the right to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use. Consumers can already do that. But this amendment seems to benefit the utilities more than the consumers. It creates even more of a monopoly, keeping entities other than large utilities from leasing solar panels to homes and businesses and selling the excess energy on the grid.”

 

OUR VIEW: Amendment 1 not a friend of solar users (October 18, 2016)

“Amendment 1 grants no additional rights to everyday Floridians. If voters want to support a true free market for energy consumption in this state and help consumers in the process, they should reject Amendment 1, which merely keeps people under the thumb of big utilities, and start advocating for allowing PPAs. It’s true that would require trusting the Legislature to craft such a plan or adopting another constitutional amendment to create that avenue. Those are long shots, but if Amendment 1 passes, we may as well write the obituary for the solar-power market in the Sunshine State.”

 

Editorial: The amendments on the Nov. 8 ballot (October 13, 2016)

“This initiative is funded by the utility industry. The Florida Supreme Court ruled, 4-3, that Amendment 1 met the basic tests for placement on the ballot. Yet Justice Barbara Pariente and two other dissenters wrote: “Let the pro-solar energy consumers beware.” The proposal, she added, is “masquerading as a pro-solar energy initiative.” We recommend voting NO, against Amendment 1.”

 

Editorial: A path toward renewable energy  (September 18, 2016)

“Unfortunately, Florida’s utilities are taking advantage of public support for solar by pushing a deceptive amendment to protect their energy monopolies. The state’s biggest utilities have spent millions of dollars funding the misleadingly named group Consumers for Smart Solar to try to pass Amendment 1. The measure would put existing rules on solar power into the state Constitution and open the door to punitive rates for solar users. If we want a future filled with clean beaches and water rather than relying more heavily on polluting fossil fuels, we need to chart a different direction for Florida.”

Editorial: The power, as in solar, lies with the voters (October 13, 2016)

“Amendment 1 grants no additional rights to everyday Floridians. If voters want to support a true free market for energy consumption in this state and help consumers in the process, they should reject Amendment 1, which merely keeps people under the thumb of big utilities, and start advocating for allowing PPAs. If Amendment 1 passes, we may as well write the obituary for the solar-power market in the Sunshine State.”

 

Herald recommends no vote on Florida’s Amendment 1, a solar energy initiative pushed by utilities (September 29, 2016)

“Witness the misleading epithet that the powerful utility industry conceived to peddle Amendment 1: ‘Consumers for Smart Solar.’ Should there be truth in advertising on this, an accurate campaign title would be: ‘Utilities for a Stronger Monopoly on Power.’ The deceptive title convinced thousands of Floridians to sign petitions circulated in a campaign underwritten by the energy and utility companies, thus earning a place on the November ballot .The electric utilities want to enshrine the status quo into the Constitution. The Bradenton Herald Editorial Board recommends a no vote on Amendment 1.”

No to FPL: Vote No on 1 (September 15, 2016)

“Of course, they’ve branded their deceptive campaign with an appealing name and catchy slogans and say the measure – Amendment 1 – will promote solar, but their initiative does nothing more than to protect their monopoly which keeps you a captive customer. It’s time for the Sunshine State to see the light. Florida should reject the manipulation of big power companies. Send them a message loud and clear, “Vote No on 1” in November. Amendment 1 Blocks the Sun.”

 

Back the Eff Away from AMENDMENT 1  (October 5, 2016)

“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.”

 

Constitutional Amendment recommendations (October 14, 2016)

“No. 1, an alleged “solar energy” initiative, is greatly misleading. My, oh my, if there ever was a descriptive misnomer, the so-called “Rights of electricity consumers regarding solar energy choice” amendment title and ballot summary wins the prize. Do not be fooled by this ballot initiative: it is NOT pro-solar. Vote NO on Amendment No. 1.”

 

Constitutional Amendment recommendations (October 14, 2016)

“No. 1, an alleged “solar energy” initiative, is greatly misleading. My, oh my, if there ever was a descriptive misnomer, the so-called “Rights of electricity consumers regarding solar energy choice” amendment title and ballot summary wins the prize. Do not be fooled by this ballot initiative: it is NOT pro-solar. Vote NO on Amendment No. 1.”

 

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