Bill Delaney: Vote No on Amendment 1, FL's Solar Sham

October 27, 2016 13 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Floridians’ penchant for amending our state constitution as the mood strikes us has led to some strange new additions to our supreme governing document every few years. What other state can boast a constitution that ensures freedom of the press, due process, and protection for pregnant pigs? Let alone one that successively required, and then repealed, a state-sponsored super train. Usually, however, even the craziest amendments don’t come from wording that’s willfully misleading. At least we know what we’re altering our constitution to say.

Not so with Amendment 1, a solar energy measure that’s secretly intended to curtail solar energy. Well, it’s not so secret these days, after the Miami Herald caught think tank head Sal Nuzzo openly admitting it at an energy conference a few weeks back. According to Nuzzo, Amendment 1 merely appropriates “the language of promoting solar” - a prospect popular with voters - for a measure that “would completely negate anything [solar advocates] would try to do either legislatively or constitutionally down the road.”

Amendment 1 is backed by most of Florida’s biggest energy companies, who view private solar panels as a threat. The wording implies it would expand solar options, but in reality, it would bar individuals and businesses from purchasing or leasing solar panels from third-party companies. This is already illegal by state law, mind you; Amendment 1 would just take the extra step of making it unconstitutional. Additionally, the measure contains language that, according to Politifact, may ultimately undermine net metering - the ability of solar users to get a stipend from their power company for surplus energy they put back into the grid. It could even open the door for power companies to impose a surcharge on solar customers to make up for the money they don’t spend on fossil fuel.

This is classic crony capitalism: corporations using the government to protect themselves from competition and innovation, in this case by enshrining a fossil era status quo in the state constitution.

There are legitimate questions at the core of the debate over solar power in Florida. If the power companies lose revenue, how can we ensure continued investment in the power grid and infrastructure they’re currently responsible for? How can we make sure solar customers pay their fair share into the infrastructure they benefit from? Unfortunately, rather than pose these questions, the energy companies would rather trick Floridians into altering our constitution through deceitful wording and a slick marketing effort.

Amendment 1 would be a ridiculous thing to add to the state constitution even if it weren’t intentionally deceptive. If it passes, it will not only set solar power back in Florida, it will initiate years of expensive legal challenges and future ballot initiatives dedicated to repealing it. Sunshine State voters who really appreciate the sunshine should vote against the dark and murky Amendment 1.

By Bill Delaney

Bill Delaney is a writer and higher education professional from Jacksonville.

Page 2: Listen to Sal Nuzzo admit to the misleading strategy

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