Florida lawmakers and the major utility companies are moving ever so close to a decision that would decimate the rooftop solar panel industry in the state.
This month, the Florida Legislature passed House Bill 741, which sets a timeline to cease net metering in the state, that would shake the rooftop solar industry to its core because it will take away all of the financial incentives that solar customers now enjoy. The bill and the solar industry in Florida are currently in the hands of Governor Ron DeSantis for his signature. He can either veto or pass Bill 741.
If DeSantis signs the bill into law, it would mean the eventual demise of net metering in Florida, which would prove costly to solar customers.
According to WFLA-TV in Tampa, some politicians have been critical of Bill 741 because it prevents Floridians from taking advantage of the state’s most readily natural resource, the sun.
“There’s an effort underway in our state that would dramatically restrict the ability of Floridians to tap into the power of the sun to power their homes. That’s bad for consumers, it’s bad for jobs, it’s bad for our environment, and it’s certainly bad for Florida,” said Florida U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist, who is a Democratic gubernatorial candidate. “There’s been a tremendous increase in the number of Florida homeowners who want to put solar panels on their roofs in recent years. And for a good reason. Homeowners want to reduce their monthly electric bills.”
Under current net metering laws in Florida, residents who rent or lease renewable systems must be credited for excess power supplied by their solar systems through a program set up by their providers. But if lobbyists for power giants such as Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, and Tampa Electric Company win, those credits will eventually disappear.
Critics of HB 741 recognize how the legislation would take away consumers’ financial incentive for installing and using solar power generators for consumers.
Currently, the net metering rate for solar companies is at 100%. But if Bill 741 is signed into law by DeSantis, starting in 2023, solar panel customers would get 75% credit. It then drops to 60% percent in 2026 and 50% in 2027 before finally falling to only the market rate in 2029.
Customers who install solar panel systems before Jan. 1, 2029, will be grandfathered into the existing net metering policy for the next 20 years, so you may want to invest in rooftop solar panels with Kuubix Energy and our partners soon. After that, rooftop solar customers would be required to pay the total cost of electric service, and it will not be subsidized by non-solar customers. For rooftop solar customers, energy credits would default to the utility company’s avoided-cost rate.
“This bill is a nightmare for anyone who believes in energy freedom and the rights of people to choose the energy that works for them and their families,” said Will Giese, southeast regional director for the Solar Energy Industries Association. “States that enact bad legislation like this will see much of that business growth disappear, and we’re urging Governor DeSantis to veto the bill and maintain Florida’s place as a national energy leader.”
According to the SEIA, more than 11,000 jobs support the solar industry in Florida. There are about 118,000 rooftop solar installations in Florida with a solar capacity to power over 1 million homes.
A recent study from advocacy group Conservatives for Clean Energy shows the solar industry adds 40,000 jobs, $18.3 billion in economic impact, and $3.2 billion in household income for its workforce. That study also showed solar adds $10.6 billion to the state’s gross domestic product.
A survey released last month by Mason-Dixon showed 84% of Florida voters support net metering.
If the bill is signed into law by DeSantis, it will go into effect on July 1, 2022.
So act now, let Gov. DeSantis’ office hear your voices. Do not allow the big power companies and the Florida Legislature to take away the advantages of solar energy in your state.
- The Florida Senate passed a bill 24-15 that distributed solar advocates have criticized as an attempt to gut rooftop solar in the state. The bill had already gotten approval in the Florida House of Representatives.
- The bill directs the Public Service Commission (PSC) to change net metering requirements and have customers pay the total cost of electric service instead of being “subsidized” by non-net metering customers, which utilities have argued would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Net metering customers could be billed fixed charges and other fees that would drive up the cost of distributed solar. Distributed energy sold to the grid would also be credited below retail rates.
- While utilities are congratulating the legislature for advancing the bill before the end of the session, distributed solar advocates are calling on Governor Ron DeSantis, R, to veto the legislation and “to stand up to monopoly utility companies that are leading this effort to put an end to Floridians’ personal freedom to put solar on their property,” Heaven Campbell, the state’s program director of Solar United Neighbors, said in a statement.