Florida Voters Reject Utility Sponsored Solar Amendment

A coalition of utility companies and fossil fuel companies spent more than $20 million to shove a weasel worded amendment to the Florida constitution down the throats of Florida voters. The amendment would have forever prevented Florida residents from taking advantage of rooftop solar power. Because it was a constitutional amendment, it needed approval from 60% of voters to pass. It got 51%.

Florida Solar Amendmnet

The amendment was deliberately constructed to mislead the public. It was as one person involved in the process called it, a bit of “legislative jiu jitsu.” It’s title said one thing but the body of the proposal said exactly the opposite. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and chairman of SolarCity tweeted that the proposal was a “calculated attempt to deceive Florida voters.”

The proposal illustrates how terrified the utilities and fossil fuel thugs like the Koch Brothers are of distributed solar power. In state after state, from Nevada to Arizona, and Florida to Hawai’i, the utilities are petrified that distributed solar may take away what they believe is their God given right to a monopoly on the generation and distribution of electricity. Blessed with a guaranteed rate of return which is double or triple what most investors can earn today, they fear their fat profits will be eroded if people are allowed to generate their own electrical power.

Solar power comes in two flavors: centralized solar, in which utility companies build large solar farms and distribute the electricity from them via the traditional grid, and decentralized solar, in which individuals and small businesses use the space available to them on their own roofs to generate electrical power for their own use. Any excess is then sold to the local utility. Heaven forfend than any private citizen make a few kilowatts of extra electricity and sell it to a neighbor! That would be contrary to the Ten Commandments, The Constitution, and the Geneva Convention, wouldn’t it?

Make no mistake. The utility companies like Duke Energy and fossil fuel companies like Kockh Industries are doing everything in their power to hang onto the obscene profits they generate in their “business as usual” little worlds. What the Florida campaign taught us is that their is one sure way to tell when either of them are lying. Their lips are moving.

Source: Miami Herald  Photo credit: Miami Herald video

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About the Author

writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.