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Vote No on Amendment 1: “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”

That’s how Justice Pariente of the Florida Supreme Court described Amendment 1.

To be exact, Pariente said it was “the proverbial ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing.'” She wrote a biting dissent when the Court approved the amendment for the ballot, and explained why Amendment 1 is so misleading to voters.

To start with, Amendment 1 is backed by the four major utility companies operating in the state: Florida Power and Light Co., Gulf Power Co., Tampa Electric Co., and Duke Energy. In fact, the utility industry that has paid more than $21 million dollars to finance the amendment. That’s explains in part why Justice Pariente said that the chief purpose of the amendment is “to maintain the status quo favoring the very electric utilities who are the proponents of this amendment.”

And the power companies admitted as much, when, according to the Miami Herald, an industry insider was caught on tape at a utility conference last month saying that the amendment is “an incredibly savvy maneuver” that “would completely negate anything they [pro-solar interests] would try to do either legislatively or constitutionally down the road.” The insider went on to call the amendment, “a little bit of political jiu-jitsu” that uses the language of promoting solar in order to keep the status quo.

How does the amendment keep things status quo in Florida? By memorializes in the Florida Constitution powers that have already been granted in Florida by statute. That is, we already have the power in Florida to use and lease solar equipment as set forth in s. 366.91, Florida Statutes and we have a right to net-metering, whereby consumers that generate too much solar power for their own use get a credit from the power company for the overage.

Environmentalists fear that the intent of the power companies with the amendment is to prevent net metering, by limiting the way solar is subsidized.

Also, by creating a new definition for terms like “lease” in Amendment 1, the power companies are limiting how consumers can lease and use solar equipment.

Before, consumers could elect to a “pay-by-the-watt” lease, where the homeowner was only obligated to pay for the electricity actually provided by the solar panels. Amendment 1 effectively eliminates pay-by-the-watt and instead mandates that lease “payments do not vary in amount based on the amount of electricity produced by the equipment.”

Altogether, it shocks the conscience that by using flowery-feel-good-language in the amendment (like, “establish[ing] a right under Florida’s constitution for consumers to own or lease solar equipment”) the power companies might succeed in duping the voters into giving them more of a stronghold on the solar market, and ultimately make it harder for consumers to lease and use solar equipment.

Don’t be duped; Amendment 1 doesn’t promote solar power in Florida. It keeps things status quo and profits in the hands of big utility companies.

Vote No on Amendment 1.

*special thanks to acidpix for the featured image

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