Florida’s Amendment 1 fails in enormous win for solar

Floridians voted tonight in favor of solar energy and against the utility-concocted Amendment 1 — and it wasn’t even close.

The amendment needed 60 percent of the vote to become law. Instead, Amendment 1 barely broke 50 percent, finishing the night with 50.78 percent of the vote — nowhere near the number of votes it needed to pass. Nearly 9 million votes were cast on the issue.

Amendment 1 was a panicked response by the utilities to a genuinely grassroots effort to allow third-party solar sales in Florida. The utilities poured nearly $30 million into an effort to amend the state’s constitution, making it the second-most expensive citizen-driven attempt to amend Florida’s constitution.

As recently as late August, it looked as if Amendment 1 would pass overwhelmingly thanks to deceptive ballot language designed to lull voters into thinking it was a pro-solar initiative. But a series of missteps over the past three weeks by the utilities appears to have turned the tide.

In the past three weeks, a utility lobbyist was heard bragging that the utilities had created Amendment 1 as an act of “political jiu-jitsu” to negate the efforts of solar advocates, the pro-utility group, after a denial, was caught trying to hide their connections to the lobbyist, and finally a “mysterious” voter guide, urging a pro-Amendment 1 vote, circulated in Miami-Dade County.

Solar advocates celebrated the vote with gusto.

“Solar is tremendously popular across state and party lines, and today’s rejection of Florida’s anti-solar ballot measure is a reminder of that,” said Scott Thomasson, director of new markets at Vote Solar. “Florida voters were armed with the truth behind Amendment 1, and for the second time this year, they cast their ballots for solar progress, customer choice and local jobs.”

“In all my years of public service, I had never seen such a thinly veiled attempt to intentionally mislead Florida voters,” said Mike Fasano a former Republican state Senator and current tax collector of Pasco County.Voters sent a clear message today to the monopoly utilities that deception against solar power is not going to work in the Sunshine State.”