The Republican-dominated Florida Legislature has launched an effort attacking our state’s current net metering policies and protections for solar owners. Net metering allows families who have solar panels on the roofs of their homes to return the extra electricity they produce back to their utility in exchange for reductions on their bill. That electricity that thousands of families send back to public electricity companies allows them to reduce their monthly energy bill so they pay less. Clean electricity generation technology allows households to join a global trend of betting on renewable energy while achieving savings in the household economy.
But two bills – SB1024 and HB 741 – that are known to be born from the corporate mind of the electric companies themselves, seek to dramatically reduce the compensation or credits families and small businesses now receive in exchange for the excess electricity they send back to their utility.
It is a bad strategy that undermines our right to clean air and the benefits of using clean energy sources. Florida lawmakers should be creating more incentives for people to tap the power of the sun, not penalizing them or making it more costly to do so. If passed, SB 1024 and HB 741 will reduce the compensation you would receive to the point of making rooftop solar panels inaccessible to most families. It is as absurd as imposing a tax on tapping into the power of the sun. It also will be a blow to years of effort to increase the percentage of electricity generated cleanly in Florida, which is still between 1 and 5% statewide.
In essence, these proposed bills will make clean energy more expensive for families, while benefiting the for-profit electricity companies and their wealthy investors that, instead of seeking to lower high energy costs, have focused on fattening their bank accounts during these difficult times we are living in.
Rooftop solar energy is good because it allows families to produce their own clean electricity, because the excess electricity they produce helps their neighbors and community, and because it promotes cleaner air.
Solar panels on homes and small businesses reduce the need for building new polluting power plants in order to meet future demand. In addition, in emergency situations, rooftop solar helps increase the reliability of the overall electrical system (the “grid”) and balance the generative load.
Solar energy is good, it’s sustainable, it’s reliable. In Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria devastated the entire island, the only radio station that continued to transmit information was a community station that remained operating thanks to solar electricity.
Florida legislators, we invite you to think about Florida residents and not the interests of powerful electric utilities. And if it should arrive on his desk, we urge Governor Ron DeSantis to veto this harmful bill. The Governor represents all Floridians, and we call on him to use his authority to veto legislation that the majority of the people oppose.