How Florida votes on Election Day will determine whether Amendment 1 results in success for the utilities that have spent $20+ million backing this ‘deceptive’ attack on rooftop solar, or a David versus Goliath win for solar supporters.
Regardless of the outcome, the #NoOn1 campaign has generated a groundswell of grassroots opposition to utilities’ misleading attempts to block the sun in the Sunshine State. After the Amendment 1 results are tallied, there will be ample opportunity to build on that momentum.
- Floridians for Solar Choice, which has led the #NoOn1 campaign, will likely continue working towards fair rooftop solar policies through the state legislature and a possible 2018 ballot initiative. Floridians who support rooftop solar can sign up to get involved here. If Amendment 1 fails, it will send a strong signal that voters want policymakers to move forward on truly pro-solar policies – not the deceptive agenda put forth by utilities. If Amendment 1 somehow passes, it will be in part because some early voters filled out their ballots before they knew the full truth about the utilities’ duplicity. The diverse coalition that opposed Amendment 1 will still be well positioned to redouble its efforts to counter the undue influence of the utility lobby over policymakers in Florida.
- Floridians can also call on Gulf Power chairman Allan Bense and CEO Stan Connally to leave the board of directors of the James Madison Institute (JMI). Sal Nuzzo, vice president of policy for JMI, made headlines after he was heard on leaked audio that exposed Amendment 1 as part of utilities’ plan to use ‘a little political jiu-jitsu’ to ‘negate’ the efforts of rooftop solar supporters. JMI’s team also includes James Taylor, a renewable energy naysayer for the climate change denying Heartland Institute. Consumers for Smart Solar, the pro-Amendment 1 group backed by Gulf Power and other utilities, was caught deleting posts on Facebook and Twitter in an attempt to cover up its ties to JMI. Cutting all ties to JMI would be the best way for Gulf Power to truly distance itself from this controversial group.
- Customers of Florida Power & Light, Gulf Power, Tampa Electric, and Duke Energy can also demand that these monopoly utilities stop any use of their hard earned money to subsidize the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), which will continue to perpetuate misleading attacks on solar ‘subsidies’ like net metering regardless of the Amendment 1 results. Todd Wynn, director of external affairs for EEI, spoke at the same State Policy Network (SPN) event where Sal Nuzzo spilled the beans on the deceptive nature of Amendment 1. Wynn encouraged those present to work with SPN groups like JMI to attack rooftop solar-friendly policies. Florida Power and Light and Gulf Power customers are now on tap to subsidize EEI to the tune of $2+ million and $250,000 per year, respectively.
- Florida Power & Light (FPL) customers can also similarly demand that the monopoly utility stop using their money to subsidize other opponents of pro-rooftop solar policies, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Eric Silagy, CEO of FPL, serves on the U.S. Chamber’s Board of Directors, which is directly responsible for the group’s policy positions and strategies. The Florida Chamber’s board also includes a Who’s Who of electric utility company executives. FPL is oddly citing Florida Public Service Commission decisions that ‘disallowed’ utilities from using customer money to fund Chambers of Commerce activities in its current request to continue doing exactly that. FPL customers face having to hand over $816,000+ to fund the U.S. Chamber in 2015-2018, and another $80,000 to fund the Florida Chamber. These largely hidden Chamber subsidies do not appear on customers’ electricity bills, and are a bizarre way to fund industry associations that supposedly advocate for ‘free market’ values.
5. Floridians can also call on FPL, Duke Energy, Gulf Power, and Tampa Electric to stop funding the deceptively named Consumers for Smart Solar (which has received no financial support from actual consumers), which in theory could continue to operate as an obstacle to rooftop solar progress long after Election Day. If Amendment 1 results in failure, it will send a strong signal to the utilities that money spent on false advertising against rooftop solar is wasted money.
One thing is for sure: countering utilities’ misleading attacks will be continue to be crucial to ensuring the success of rooftop solar in the Florida.