Florida voters OK solar power tax breaks

rooftop solar july 2 elp

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida voters have approved an amendment to the state constitution calling for tax breaks aimed at helping both commercial and residential property owners install solar or renewable energy systems more affordably.

The measure approved Tuesday expands property tax exemptions covering only residential property to cover renewable energy equipment on commercial property, so that if adding solar increases a property's value, the owner won't be taxed extra for that.

The amendment also removes Florida's "tangible personal property tax," which taxes solar equipment installed on properties. Without it, leasing solar systems will be a more profitable business in Florida.

Despite abundant sunshine, Florida lags nationally in solar power production. Solar arrays are getting cheaper but are still costly, so providing more access to leasing for all property owners will increase the sun power generated in the state.

The measure was introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Tallahassee and is endorsed by diverse groups such as Audubon Florida, the Christian Coalition and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. It would expand property tax exemptions covering only residential property to cover renewable energy equipment on commercial property, so that if adding solar increases a property's value, the owner won't be taxed extra for that.

Amendment 4 is one of two solar-related initiatives facing Florida voters this year.

Amendment 1 will be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. The proposal would grant homeowners the right to install solar panels on their houses. But it also would allow local and state governments to continue regulating the use of solar power, including making sure that customers without solar are not required to "subsidize" those who do use the panels.

Amendment 1 is not supported by the same coalition of groups that support Amendment 4, but is backed by utilities.

Florida Power and Light spokesperson Alys Daly said in an email that the utility supports both amendments.

Amendment 4 received little organized opposition.

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