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Why are Florida utilities spending $22 million to 'protect' your right to solar power?

Solar panelsWhy would Florida’s electric utilities want to spend $22 million to get voters to put into the state Constitution “rights of electricity consumers regarding solar energy choice,” if consumers already have that legal right?

The answer is in the fine print. The Amendment 1 title — “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice” — uses the popularity of solar to embed new language into the Constitution that can be used as a legal barrier to raise fees on solar users and keep out companies that want to compete with the monopoly-owned utilities to provide solar generation of electricity.

The amendment starts off by summing up an existing Florida law which allows “consumers to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property.” But it is the next sentence that adds something new. It declares that customers who do not install solar “are not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do.” We break it down here.