Voters in Florida face crucial solar power decisions

By Jason Dearen, Associated Press

Voters in sun-bathed Florida will face a decision Tuesday that could weigh heavily on the use — and cost — of solar power in the state.

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Voters in sun-bathed Florida will face a decision Tuesday that could weigh heavily on the use — and cost — of solar power in the state.

The solar power industry is opposed to Amendment 1, a proposal to amend the state constitution that will appear on the ballot as "Florida Solar Energy Subsidies and Personal Solar Use Initiative."

Utilities — including Florida Power & Light Co. — have spent upward of $20 million trying to get the amendment on the ballot.

The two sides are sharply divided. The solar industry says it could penalize users of sun-derived power who sell their excess energy back to the grid. Utility companies say the amendment would prevent non-solar users from subsidizing the solar users who profit from the excess energy that they produce.

The Florida Supreme Court narrowly ruled in March that the amendment can appear on the ballot. Critics had sued to get it removed, claiming it was too confusing and would mislead voters.

On Friday, the court rejected a request to invalidate the measure.

The amendment would also put into the constitution a right already enjoyed by Floridians to produce solar power. Critics say this is meant to deceive voters into thinking the amendment is pro-solar. The amendment also reaffirms the government's right to protect consumers by stating that they are not "required to subsidize" access to the grid by individual solar user.

Passage requires the approval of 60 percent of voters casting ballots.

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