Florida Power & Light drafted language that ended up in a Florida legislator’s bill and would restrict the adoption of solar power in Florida, according an email exchange that the Energy and Policy Institute obtained via a public record request.

In an email dated January 23, 2017, Florida Rep. Ray Rodrigues sent an attorney with Florida House Bill Drafting an email titled “Feedback on Consumer Disclosure for Solar Amendment Implementation.” He attached a document titled “Chapter 501 Electricity Consumers Solar Energy Choice Act.” The metadata of the attached document had Barbara J. Washington, Senior Legal Assistant at NextEra Energy Resources, the parent company of Florida Power & Light, listed as the author.
Rodrigues said in the email, “I received the following document as a suggestion on the consumer disclosure for the solar amendment. Can you compare this to the Arizona bill that we sent and let me know the differences?”

 

The Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times reported the story, including details about funding that Rodrigues’ PAC had received from Florida Power & Light just a few days prior to the email exchange:

On Jan. 18, Rodrigues accepted a $15,000 contribution to his political committee from Florida Power & Light, and $2,000 from Tampa Electric. Five days later, on Jan. 23, he sent an email asking a lawyer in the House bill drafting office to analyze FPL’s proposal and compare it to the Arizona bill he was considering using as a model for his “consumer protection language.”

“I received the following document as a suggestion on the consumer disclosure for the Solar Amendment. Can you compare this to the Arizona bill that we sent and let me know the differences?” he wrote to staff attorney Yvonne Gsteiger.

Gsteiger responded that the FPL draft “establishes extensive requirements before a solar electric equipment [SEE] can be installed. This could be a huge barrier to selling SEEs.”

On Feb. 24, Rodrigues filed his original bill primarily modeled after an Arizona law that was pushed by the utility industry in that state. He said the consumer safeguards are needed to protect against “bad actors” in the solar industry.

On March 21, when his bill came up for its first hearing before the House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee, Rodrigues filed an amendment that included FPL’s language verbatim in eight different sections.

Rodrigues acknowledged that “some of the language” written by FPL made it into the bill. But, he added, while FPL might have succeeded in getting in provisions he agreed with, solar industry advocates also succeeded in stripping out provisions they considered objectionable — such as removing criminal penalties that tracked the Arizona bill and replaced them with civil penalties.

Posted by Energy and Policy Institute

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