Well, we saw it with Amendment 1 a couple of years ago, and we saw it last year and the year before with the fracking bills. Industry or special interests which purport to help the environment and do the right thing to protect our springs, rivers and aquifer, but which in reality do just the opposite.
Here we have it again with the utilities who oppose solar power, but are pretending to support it. This article by Jim Turner appeared in the Gainesville Sun. Please read carefully and you will see that “Consumers for Smart Solar” appears to be a group that thinks you are stupid and can be tricked.
Supporters set stage for solar campaign
Published: Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 5:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 5:40 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE — A group seeking to put existing solar-energy regulations into the state Constitution expects to spend “millions” in the coming months to promote the utility-backed amendment.
The group, known as “Consumers for Smart Solar,” this week revealed a campaign slogan, “Yes on 1 for the Sun,” but provided few other details of the upcoming campaign.
The group has already raised and spent more than $7 million to get the amendment on the November general-election ballot, where it will appear as Amendment 1.
Jim Kallinger, a former Republican state representative and co-chairman of Consumers for Smart Solar, said Floridians should expect to hear the phrase in social media, direct mail and some TV ads.
“We just got court approval, so we’re trying to formulate our efforts. But it’s going to be widespread,” Kallinger said after the news conference. “We’re a big state, 20 million folks. Half of them are registered to vote. So it’s going to be a big effort. It will be millions. We’re committed to this.”
The campaign is expected to focus on allowing state and local governments to maintain consumer protections.
Screven Watson, a Consumers for Smart Solar board member, defended the effort as a means to keep questionable “out-of-state” companies from being able to operate in Florida.
“The key word here is for government to retain its ability, not a word about expanding its authority,” said Watson, a former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. “There is nothing controversial about Amendment 1. But there are some out-of-state special interests that are attempting to manufacture controversy and feign outrage.”
The Consumers for Smart Solar measure would generally maintain the status quo in allowing Floridians with solar equipment on their property to sell energy to power companies.
The amendment also says 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 was introduced last year as a counter to a separate ballot proposal that sought to allow businesses to generate and sell up to two megawatts of power to customers on the same or neighboring properties.
The group behind that effort, “Floridians for Solar Choice,” failed to collect the needed signatures to get on the 2016 ballot and is now looking at the 2018 election.
Floridians for Solar Choice intends to campaign against the utility-backed amendment.
Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a key supporter of the Floridians for Solar Choice coalition, called the announcement “only more deception” by Consumers for Smart Solar.
“The only people their proposed amendment would protect are utility shareholders. Period,” Smith said in a statement. “This amendment seeks to limit non-utility solar options in Florida by enshrining the status quo and providing the utilities with leverage to continue to control their customers.”
The Consumers for Smart Solar amendment has already raised $7.25 million, including $35,000 in March from Gulf Power Company. But it started April with under $212,000 on hand, having spent most of its money since forming last July to collect signatures, for consulting work and on legal counsel.
The Supreme Court on March 31 signed off, in a 4-3 decision, on the wording of the proposed constitutional amendment.
Justice Barbara Pariente wrote a sharp dissent that echoed views of opponents of the initiative.
“Let the pro-solar energy consumers beware,” Pariente wrote in the dissent backed by justices Peggy Quince and James E.C. Perry. “Masquerading as a pro-solar energy initiative, this proposed constitutional amendment, supported by some of Florida’s major investor-owned electric utility companies, actually seeks to constitutionalize the status quo.”
Pariente added that “the ballot title is affirmatively misleading by its focus on ‘Solar Energy Choice,’ when no real choice exists for those who favor expansion of solar energy.”
Asked about Pariente’s comments, Kallinger simply said his group is “pleased” by the opinion of the court in backing the ballot language.
In the majority ruling, the four justices said they disagreed with opponents of the amendment.
“Nothing within the Florida Constitution currently provides electricity consumers with the specific right ‘to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use,’ ” the majority ruled. “Although the Florida Constitution provides a general right to ‘acquire, possess and protect property,’ this court has recognized that it does not secure the right to own any specific good or asset.”
The amendment would require support from 60 percent of voters to pass.