The Solar Power Amendment #1 on the ballot has drawn all sorts of opposition from the standard bevy of liberal media and environmental groups. The inordinate attention brought to the effort by these very biased group raises red flags about why the oppose it. Unfortunately in all the hyperventilating about the evil corporations mixed in with conspiracy theories involving the Koch brothers, there is never any rational or simple explanation of what Amendment 1 actually does. When opponents are unwilling to discuss the substance of their ire, people should know that deception is in play.
So here are some actual facts. What Amendment 1 does is make sure that if your neighbor is installing solar and benefitting from it, that THEY are paying the full cost and not you. Amendment 1 would ensure that government authorities would still be able to ensure that citizens without solar equipment are not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do own it.
Right now there are many freebies that solar customers get in Florida that others do not. For instance those buying solar equipment in Florida don’t have to pay any property tax on it after voters approved amendment 4 last August. That means, unless government cuts spending and property taxes, those NOT putting in solar will have to pay more property tax. Furthermore, those buying solar equipment pay NO sales tax on it!
So if a person puts an addition onto their home, they will have to pay more property taxes, but if a person puts a solar system onto their home, they would not have to pay property taxes on that. In addition to panels, chargers, inverters, wiring, conduit and more, solar systems usually have large battery banks for storage that can cost thousands of dollars. Right now those who buy batteries for their cars and boats don’t receive any tax break for doing so, but those who buy solar-related batteries would. That is not fair.
The effect of all these laws is to pick winners over losers: the winners are those who pay No TAXES on their expensive solar equipment and the lowers are those who pay extra taxes on everything else to make up for the loss form the solar exemptions. There is also the likelihood that environmental lobby will [push government to make those without solar to pay higher electric rates or some sort of penalty for “non-renewable” energy. That could lead to poor people entering into leases with companies to put panels on their home to “keep up” with the jones and avoid the penalty. Proponents of Amendment 1 state that such leases would be more transparent and less abusive. This would help avoid scams as occurred in Arizona involving shady business practices with unknown long term leases of solar equipment.
SunBeam Times Truth Check Rating: “Under a Rock”
The Tampa Bay Times continues its tradition of lies and deception to support its agenda at all costs.
Tampa Bay Times Editorial 10/23/16: Amendment 1 ”uses the Constitution to cement existing statutes that limit the marketplace, providing an uneven playing field and even greater protection.”
Truth: The exact opposite is true. What the language does is actually make and EVEN playing field between the wealthier who can afford solar and those who are poorer who can’t. The amendment does nothing to limit the true marketplace, but rather makes sure that those who buy solar products in the marketplace don’t get an unfair tax advantage while those buying everything else pay more taxes to make up the difference.
The Times and the pro-solar lobby continue to deceive as they seek extra advantages over the rest of the marketplace. They don’t have the facts on their sides, so all they can resort to is attacks on easily disliked power companies and the standard strawmen “bad guys” of the left. They like to complain that the language is too complex and will confuse the voters, when the actual constitutional amendment language is very simple – running about two pages compared to the four and a half pages for the amendment to legalize so-called “medical” marijuana.
The Sunbeam Times knows that voters are smarter than the chattering class, so here is the ballot language and the actual constitutional language that Amendment One would create. We recommend a yes vote on Amendment one.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ARTICLE X, SECTION 29 (INITIATIVE)
Ballot Title: Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice
Ballot Summary: 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 would make sure that local and state government authorities have the ability to continue to ensure that no subsidies are being provided from non-solar to solar users. This would protect those who can’t afford the rather expensive solar systems from paying those who are wealthier and can afford to do so.
Financial Impact Statement: The amendment is not expected to result in an increase or decrease in any revenues or costs to state and local government.
Full Text: ARTICLE X Miscellaneous Section 29 – Rights of electricity consumers regarding solar energy choice.
– (a) ESTABLISHMENT OF CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT. Electricity consumers have the right to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use.
(b) RETENTION OF STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTAL ABILITIES. 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.
(c) DEFINITIONS. For purposes of this section, the following words and terms shall have the following meanings:
(1) “consumer” means any end user of electricity regardless of the source of that electricity.
(2) “solar equipment,” “solar electrical generating equipment” and “solar” are used interchangeably and mean photovoltaic panels and any other device or system that converts sunlight into electricity.
(3) “backup power” means electricity from an electric utility, made available to solar electricity consumers for their use when their solar electricity generation is insufficient or unavailable, such as at night, during periods of low solar electricity generation or when their solar equipment otherwise is not functioning.
(4) “lease,” when used in the context of a consumer paying the owner of solar electrical generating equipment for the right to use such equipment, means an agreement under which the consumer pays the equipment owner/lessor a stream of periodic payments for the use of such equipment, which payments do not vary in amount based on the amount of electricity produced by the equipment and used by the consumer/lessee.
(5) “electric grid” means the interconnected electrical network, consisting of power plants and other generating facilities, transformers, transmission lines, distribution lines and related facilities, that makes electricity available to consumers throughout Florida.
(6) “electric utility” means any municipal electric utility, investor‐owned electric utility, or rural electric cooperative which owns, maintains, or operates an electric generation, transmission, or distribution system within the state.
(d) EFFECTIVE DATE. This section shall be effective immediately upon voter approval of this amendment.