Breaking: Florida Governor vetoes anti-rooftop solar bill


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has vetoed House Bill 741, which would have phased down the value of net metering and opened the door for utilities to add fixed charges to solar customer bills.

When the bill initially passed on March 8, it did so by a combined vote of  83-31, with five abstaining in the House, and 24-15 in the Senate, garnering 68% of the total vote. In vetoing the bill, DeSantis sends it back to the House, where it will be available for consideration until the end of the current session. In Florida, it takes two-thirds of the members voting in each house to override a veto.

Since its introduction and through the bill’s passage in the state legislature, it received significant backlash with Will Giese, southeast regional director of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) calling it ” 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.” A recent Sachs Media poll found that 86% of the 722 polled Florida voters, regardless of political affiliation or age, said they wanted Governor DeSantis to veto the bill, including 82% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats.

Had the bill been signed by Gov. DeSantis, starting in 2023, payments to solar customers would have regress from a retail rate to the “avoided cost” to the utility, a minute fraction of the retail rate. The phase out was set to slash payment rates to solar customers by 50% in four years and would drop further still to the avoided cost rate by 2029. The bill would have also allowed for fixed charges to grid connected solar customers starting in 2026, with no limit on the fixed charges outlined in the bill text.

The bill was founded on “cost shift” rhetoric, claiming that those using their own energy are raising the cost of service to those who don’t, usually in an economically disproportionate fashion. However, only about 90,000 of the 8.5 million electric customers in Florida are topped with solar. The utility argues that this some 1% of Floridians are creating significant costs for the other 99%. 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. In his veto, DeSantis described House Bill 741 as a burden itself, one that would “contribute to the financial crunch that our citizens are experiencing.”

In a statement, SEIA called the veto a “major win for energy freedom and Florida’s clean energy economy.”

“Today, Governor DeSantis helped secure the livelihoods of thousands of solar workers and protected the rights of Floridians to lower their electricity bills with solar,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “Florida is one of the fastest-growing solar markets in the country with new businesses popping up all across the state. This veto signals that Florida’s energy economy is open for business, and that the rights of state residents should be placed ahead of monopoly utility interests.”

Katie Chiles Ottenweller, southeast regional director at Vote Solar levied similar praise to Hopper, saying:

“Thank you to Governor DeSantis for siding with job and energy freedom by vetoing this harmful legislation. I’m glad the governor recognized the devastating impacts that HB 741 would have on our economy, workforce, and energy freedom. Today, Florida lives up to its name as the Sunshine State.”

pv magazine will continue to update this story as it develops.

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