Shining some light on Florida’s solar amendments

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For a place called the Sunshine State, Florida is behind much of the nation and the world in using solar energy. You might have read about how this last July was the hottest one on record.  Most scientists believe that cutting back on fossil fuels will help slow climate change. Will we catch up with other states and countries on renewable energy?

Florida had a tax credit and rebate program from 2006 until 2010 for solar energy. There will be 2 amendments on Floridians’ ballots this year, and one that will probably show up next year. Here are some explanations and links if you want to find out more about the amendments.

The following amendment will be on the ballot for the August primary election:

Amendment #4

 SOLAR DEVICES OR RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCE DEVICES; EXEMPTION FROM CERTAIN TAXATION AND ASSESSMENT.—Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to exempt from ad valorem taxation the assessed value of solar or renewable energy source devices subject to tangible personal property tax, and to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to prohibit consideration of such devices in assessing the value of real property for ad valorem taxation purposes. This amendment takes effect January 1, 2018, and expires on December 31, 2037.

Summary: Amendment 4 expands tax breaks on renewable energy devices to include businesses. Current state law restricts property-tax breaks on solar power and other renewable energy devices to residential property. The amendment would authorize (but not require) the state Legislature to pass laws exempting businesses from two different taxes when those businesses purchase renewable energy devices. One exemption would prohibit local governments from considering renewable energy devices when determining the value of real estate used for business purposes. The other would exempt renewable energy devices from the state’s tax on a business’ “tangible personal property,” which includes such items as computers and furniture. The amendment would take effect on Jan. 1, 2018, and would sunset on Dec. 31, 2037. This amendment, which will appear on the Aug. 30 primary ballot, should not be confused with a solar-power amendment that will appear on the general election ballot Nov. 8. The two are very different. Read the full text of the Aug. 30 amendment question here and a legislative analysis of it here. (from BeReadyToVote.org, a non-partisan site)

Supported by: Floridians for Solar Choice ,  Southern Alliance for Clean Energy    Voting: Primary Election: August 30, 2016

The following amendment will be on the ballot for the November election:

Amendment #1

 Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice – 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.

Summary: This amendment takes current state law and puts it in the state constitution. Floridians are currently allowed by law to own or lease solar equipment. Opponents of this ballot say it may allow the utilities to prevent net metering (selling surplus solar power) or sharing surplus solar power. It is currently against the law to share surplus solar power. The two main components of this initiative are as follows:

  1. The initiative would grant Florida residents the right to produce their own solar energy if they so choose.
  2. The initiative would allow state and local governments to prevent people who do not choose to produce solar energy from being required to subsidize the production of solar energy.

The above summary comes from, and more info is available from: https://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Right_to_Solar_Energy_Choice_Initiative,_Amendment_1_(2016)

Supported by:  Consumers for Smart Solar , Utility companies    Voting:  General Election: November 8, 2016

Here is an interesting article, with lots of statistics, from Rolling Stone magazine about the Koch Brothers, fossil fuel and Florida.