Last month, the Florida state legislature passed House Bill 741, which phases down the value of solar net metering, and opens the door for utilities to add fixed charges to solar customer bills. Net metering is a vital policy that supports the value of rooftop solar, paying customers for exporting excess solar energy production to the grid.
If passed by Governor Ron DeSantis, the law takes effect in 2023, payments to solar customers will regress from a retail rate, like the one they pay utilities at around 10 cents a kilowatt, to the “avoided cost” to the utility, a minute fraction of the retail rate. The phase out will slash payment rates to solar customers by 50% in four years and would drop further still to the avoided cost rate by 2029.
The broad language in the bill that allows for fixed charges is likened to a now-stalled similar net metering proposal in California, NEM 3.0. The fixed charges, only levied on solar customers, even those who have batteries that support electric grid resiliency, are described by experts as “a tax on the sun.”
A recent Sachs Media poll confirms that the citizens of the Sunshine State want supportive solar policy to stay. Regardless of political affiliation or age, 86% of the 722 polled Florida voters said they want Governor DeSantis to veto the bill. This includes 82% of Republican respondents, and 90% of Democrats. This is information that will likely carry weight as it reaches Mr. Desantis’ desk, as it is an election year for his seat.
The poll also demonstrated the uncertainty Floridians are feeling about the future of electricity in the state. About 84% of respondents said they are concerned about a utility bill increase over the next year. Rooftop solar offers peace of mind to these voters, as solar contracts secure a clear picture of what the homeowner would pay for electric rates over the next 20+ years.
“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. Net metering has helped over 100,000 Florida homeowners make that choice, and utilities are now banking on the state government to strip those rights away and pad their monopoly hold on electricity.” Will Giese, southeast regional director, Solar Energy Industries Association.
The bill has been described as an attack on Floridians’ personal freedom of choice, wresting power out of their hands and back into the hands of the utility. In total, across party lines, only 3% of respondents said they are interested in Governor DeSantis passing the bill.
Founded on the idea of the “cost shift,” the bills are pitched as a protection for non-solar customers from raised rates through cross-subsidizing solar customers. Studies completed by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab found that 40 of the 43 states and Washington D.C. with net metering programs have a negligible cost increase attributed to solar.
(Read: “Coalition received $1.7 million from three California utilities to push NEM 3.0, a rooftop solar ‘killer’”)
The Berkeley study found that cost pressures from net metering don’t start making a tangible effect until solar penetration reaches 10%. Florida is nowhere near this figure, with 0.86% of households currently topped with solar. And when battery energy storage is attached to a home solar system, the “cost shift” argument dissolves.
The state’s solar industry employs over 40,000 people, has led to $18.3 billion in economic activity, created $3.3 billion in tax revenues, and led to $3.2 billion in household energy savings. House Bill 741 is expected to put much of that at critical risk.
On an election year, Governor Ron DeSantis has the opportunity to be a hero to the Florida solar industry and to the 86% of voters who seek his veto.
This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: email@example.com.
How many think DeSantis doesn’t really care about the 86% of voters but will instead go with the corporations who send the biggest bribes … er … campaign contributions?
He will look at the numbers and say 300% of people HATE solar and I hate the smell of cannabis and I want people to breathe clean air except for coal dust. He is too stupid to be a gov. but based upon recent history he is plenty smart to be President.
So true Peter!
FPL actually had a hand in writing the bill. What do you expect? Desantis is owned by whoever will pay him most.
DeSantis cares a lot more for utilities than the people since he is a fascist literally that has done everything to take power away from people, local governments and give it to him, business and the state government.
He even got his own brown shirt police force he controls funded.
But he has to get elected and if he veto this, his chances of winning go down.
DeSantis is a competent Trump, so the world best beware and help Florida stop him in November.
It’s really frustrating that this lies in the hands of this one guy and his tendency to be a corporate tool is at odds with polls that he propbably does not care a lot about.
How did we get here? Yes FPL bribed republicans AND DEMOCRATS to vote for this bill, yes FPL has been at this since 2016 in various forms but there is also a trojan horse involved.
The solar industry is not represented in Tallahassee properly. The trade groups and the residential customers are way outgunned with lawyers and lobbyist and the groups that do represent and defend being butter knifes to these gun fights. They are weak and I believe purposely weak. Where is our the solar version of the NRA to defend our right to energy freedom in Florida?
If we lose net-metering a new day is coming. If FPL thinks this will be the end they are sadly mistaken. When you tell people they can’t have something it only strengthens the resolve to have that. The first thing we will do is throw out all of the people that got us here, SUN, and these democrats that voted for this and we will build a real solar group that will fight for our rights – just like the NRA fights for gun rights, like pit bulls – and it will be a long and hard fight but we will win this.
No this is not over.. F___ YOU FPL.
By submitting this form you agree to pv magazine using your data for the purposes of publishing your comment.
Your personal data will only be disclosed or otherwise transmitted to third parties for the purposes of spam filtering or if this is necessary for technical maintenance of the website. Any other transfer to third parties will not take place unless this is justified on the basis of applicable data protection regulations or if pv magazine is legally obliged to do so.
You may revoke this consent at any time with effect for the future, in which case your personal data will be deleted immediately. Otherwise, your data will be deleted if pv magazine has processed your request or the purpose of data storage is fulfilled.
Further information on data privacy can be found in our Data Protection Policy.