Tuesday, December 22, 2015

So Long to Solar

The media seemed to go out of its way to support Floridians for Solar Choice.
The Floridians for Solar Choice amendment, backed by the nonprofit Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, environmental groups and the League of Women Voters, among others, would allow businesses and homeowners to sell up to 2 megawatts of solar power with some restrictions.

Two megawatts is estimated to serve the power needs of a Wal-Mart or a neighborhood of between 200 and 700 homes.

The change in the law, if the amendment were adopted, would allow businesses and homeowners with solar panels to sell power to their neighbors or tenants.

Selling any form of power is the exclusive right of the big utility companies under current law, and that has kept small solar producers from selling directly to consumers, depressing the solar market.
Yet recently, FSC has admitted difficulty in collecting the needed signatures to make the ballot.
A ballot initiative seeking to increase the amount of solar power generated in Florida by allowing businesses to sell sun power directly to consumers is unlikely to qualify for the 2016 ballot, supporters said.
Floridians for Solar Choice, a group of unlikely allies including tea party members and environmentalists, said they're still tens of thousands of signatures shy of qualifying for next year's ballot. The due date for verified signatures is Feb. 1.
The group says its signature-gathering efforts will continue into the 2018 election cycle if they're unable to pull it together by the deadline.
That was preceded by FSC's difficulties in coming to agreement with a signature gathering firm.
A dispute with a signature-gathering firm makes it likely that the group attempting to expand solar power choice in Florida will fall short of acquiring the necessary signatures to qualify for the ballot next year.
Floridians for Solar Choice (FSC) needs to get 683,149 signatures turned in to state Division of Elections by February 1. Currently, the state has verified 262,499, but an additional 212,000 are being held in California and may never make it to Tallahassee, due to a financial disagreement between the group and PCI Consulting, a Southern California-based company hired to collect the signatures for the amendment.
Is there some conspiracy here that they failed to gather the signatures? Many seem to want to blame the power companies, (who doesn't hate their power company?) who did add some confusion by filing their own protectionist amendment. But it just seems a lack of execution and/or interest may have doomed FSC's petition, since there have been many less deserving... too many... petitions make the ballot in the past, and FSC is still short over 200,000 signatures, which have to be verified by February 1, 2016.

Broken down solar
The FSC amendment language did get approved by the Florida Supreme Court, so it had cleared that hurdle.

Both Floridians for Solar Choice and the utilities backed Consumers for Smart Solar are inappropriate for the constitution.

Anyone who wants solar today can install solar today, and get subsidies as well. Well, you can't sell power like the FSC petition would allow.  But we don't need a Florida Constitutional Amendment for that. Regardless, using a constitutional amendment to enshrine what should be a law is unsuitable in the long run for Floridians, and both parties are abusing the amendment process. Neither are the first to abuse the process, nor among the worse.

But it does feature a special carve out for Solar power, and uniquely enshrine a preference for solar in the state constitution over any other power generation sources. This is approved language from the FSC petition:
PURPOSE AND INTENT. It shall be the policy of the state to encourage and promote local small-scale solar-generated electricity production and to enhance the availability of solar power to customers.
Translated, it shall be the purpose of the state of Florida government to promote the special interest of solar energy producers over other power generation technologies. Tax breaks? Check. Subsidies? Check. Favorable regulations? Check. More lobbyists? Check.

Regardless, Floridians for Solar Choice have announced they have failed to gather the signatures for 2016, and will grace us with another attempt in 2018.

Solar, wind, fossil, nuclear are the power source choices we have. We'll need them all. Let's hope we don't need to make one favored in our constitution, now, or in 2018.

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