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Breaking: Solar advocates to file lawsuit challenging Amendment 1 before Florida Supreme Court today

Using new information that came from a leaked audio of the policy director of a Tallahassee think tank, solar industry advocates announced Wednesday they will file two legal actions in the Florida Supreme Court aimed at stopping Amendment 1.

According to a press release from Florida Solar Choice, the political committee formed by the solar industry-backed group opposing the utility-backed Amendment 1, they will ask the Florida Supreme Court to reopen the case that determined that the ballot language before voters was not misleading, and they will also file a second mandamus action to halt the ballot counting. A press conference is scheduled for noon.

The Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times first reported that Sal Nuzzo, the policy director and vice president at the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee, a think tank supported by Florida’s largest electric utilities, admitted at a conference in October that Amendment 1 was an attempt to deceive voters into supporting restrictions on the expansion of solar by shrouding it as a pro-solar amendment that was intended to "negate" efforts by solar advocates.

Nuzzo detailed the strategy used by the state’s largest utilities to create and finance Amendment 1 at the State Energy/Environment Leadership Summit in Nashville on Oct. 2 and said the amendment was an act of “political jiu-jitsu” that “would completely negate anything they (pro-solar interests) would try to do either legislatively or constitutionally down the road.” 

The Herald/Times reported Tuesday that the utility industry has spent a total of $42.7 million this election cycle in an attempt to win support for their efforts, which include staving off the emergence of rooftop solar installations in Florida and requiring solar users to contribute to their revenue stream. The utilities have put $20 million into the Consumers for Smart Solar, the political committee they created to promote the Amendment, and groups backed by them have contributed another $6 million.

In documents filed with state regulators, and in public statements, many officials at Florida’s utilities have made it clear that they want to roll back the current net metering law as utilities have in other states. Net metering allows homeowners and businesses to be reimbursed for the excess energy their solar panels generate.

Recent polls show that Amendment 1 may be falling short of the 60 percent of the vote needed to become law.