Why You Should Vote NO on Florida Amendment 1

Understanding the Amendment

by Kevin Zak and Mo Cheikhali

Amendment 1 will appear on ballots in Florida in November. This amendment was designed with the support of millions of energy industry dollars in order to discourage the growth of independently managed solar energy systems by individuals, while encouraging further dependence on the power companies to keep the lights on. The wording of the amendment uses tricky legal jargon to make an initially appealing claim regarding the protection of individual solar owners' rights in the first sentence, while then slipping in an opening for fees and de facto penalties for the same user's in the following sentence.

No. 1
Constitutional Amendment
Article X, Section 29

 

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.

 

BREAKDOWN

“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.”

 

The Lie: This amendment will finally give consumers the right to own and lease solar equipment.

The truth: Consumers already have that right. Making a right under the Florida constitution sounds nice, but it just really isn’t necessary. If this was all the amendment was about, then it would be acceptable enough. But it’s clear that the utility companies that funded this amendment only added it in to make it sound appealing. Making it the first sentence in the amendment language was no mistake. It’s the rest of the amendment that is problematic.

 

“State and local governments shall retain their abilities to protect consumer rights and public health, safety and welfare…”

 

The Lie: Those consumer rights are in danger of going away, this amendment ensures they remain.

The Truth: Floridian’s are already fully protected under Florida’s existing consumer protection laws, building regulations, electrical codes, and installer licensing. The false promises of additional rights are specifically designed to do nothing but gain support for the amendment itself.

 

“…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 Lie: Non-solar users are forced to subsidize the costs of solar users, raising costs and the tax burden on non-users.

 The Truth: This is the big lie and the meat of the amendment. It gives state and local government the right to impose fees on solar users. Nowhere in the US is solar power threatening any utility. The truth is that rooftop solar electricity actually provides a net benefit by reducing costs on fossil fuels, relieving the burden on power grids during the day, and increasing availability of power in more remote areas.

 

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.

The amendment is not expected to result in an increase or decrease in any revenues or costs to state and local government.

 

Understanding the Environmental Significance 

 

With seas around Florida projected to rise by multiple feet in the coming decades, a very real threat to all major coastal cities in Florida, it is important to work towards a future with local communities empowered by sustainable energy and efforts. This future is impossible if we allow the money and the power of the large utility companies to control our means energy consumption and production. The burning of fossil fuels by the industry will continue in competition with solar so long as big utility companies can reap profits from burning fossil fuels and practices widely known by scientists to be massively destructive all the way from extraction to combustion. Opposition to Amendment 1 is by no means an attack on the jobs and livelihoods of utility workers, but rather a recognition that there will not be a Florida to live and work in if we do not transition to sustainable energy. The protection of  this beautiful state and those who live here is the first and foremost concern of our opposition to Amendment 1. Vote NO on Amendment 1 for brighter future in the Sunshine State.

 

 

 

 




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