Sunshine State Voters Nix Amendment 1

by | Nov 10, 2016

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Florida voters rejected one of the most contentious and expensive ballot measures in state history on November 8 – Amendment 1, the Florida Solar Energy Subsidies and Personal Solar Use Initiative.

The utility backed initiative to place regulations for the solar industry in the state constitution fell short of the 60 percent needed for adoption, garnering less than 51 percent of the vote, according to a report in the Pensacola News Journal.

The law would have protected ratepayers who do not produce solar energy from “subsidizing” grid maintenance fees for those who have solar panels.  In defeating the amendment, the voters also opposed constitutionalizing the right to own or lease solar equipment.

As the advocacy group, Floridians for Solar Choice characterized the campaign, “In a true David and Goliath battle, a diverse grassroots coalition of more than 200 organizations, solar companies, elected officials, and thousands of concerned citizens worked to defeat the deceptive utility backed amendment.”

Indeed, Tory Perfetti, chairman of Floridians for Solar Choice and director of Conservatives for Energy Freedom commented, “Today, as a coalition representing every part of Florida’s political spectrum, we defeated one of the most egregious and underhanded attempts at voter manipulation in this state’s history. With … the hard work of every member of Floridians for Solar Choice, we won against all odds and secured a victory for energy freedom. This is a win for the people and I could not be more honored to be a part of this historic victory.

Conversely, Sarah Bascom, a spokesperson for the utility backed Consumers for Smart Solar, stated, “While Amendment 1 fell short of the 60 percent threshold required for approval, it appears that more than half of all Florida voters, including a majority of voters in 47 of Florida’s 67 counties, sent a message that they want solar done the right way, in a manner that protects customers and respects those who choose solar, as well as those who do not.”

The tide started to turn a couple of weeks ago when an audiotape of a policy expert at the James Madison Institute, a conservative think tank in Tallahassee, was leaked calling the campaign to pass the initiative “political jiu-jitsu,” Jennifer Rennicks of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy told the Pensacola News Journal.

Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, Gulf Power, and Tampa Electric  were among the biggest donors to the $26 million campaign for the amendment.

“Florida voters weren’t fooled by the misleading campaign that the utilities tried to perpetrate,” said Tania Galloni, Earthjustice Managing Attorney for Florida. “It’s great to see the little guys win for a change.”

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