The House sponsor of a proposal that would slash financial incentives and add fees for new home rooftop solar systems in Florida attempted to deliver an olive branch to opponents of the proposal Thursday. Rep. Lawrence McClure, R-Dover, offered an amendment to allow current solar users to retain their financial incentives for 20 years, instead of 10 years in the original bill. The House Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee adopted the amendment, but the modification was not enough to stop the parade of opposition against the bill (HB 741) from solar installers and consumers around the state.
“This bill is a hypocritical slap in the face to all Floridians, allowing utilities to build solar on huge tracts of land, make us pay for these upgrades and simultaneously deny us the ability to cost effectively harvest and share our own solar energy,” Matthew Chentnick, owner of Independent Green Technologies in Tallahassee. “The bill is a job killer and a small business killer.” Only about 90,000 Florida customers, about 1% of the state’s more than 8.5 million customers, sell excess energy back to the electrical grid, and the bill would significantly reduce the financial incentives by reducing the amount solar users are paid when they supply excess power to the grid, and charge them additional fees.
The committee approved the bill 13-3, which was written by lobbyists for Florida Power & Light, with three Democratic Reps. Kamia Brown, Tracie Davis and David Silvers voting yes. Passing the bill is a top priority for the state’s largest utility company, whose parent company NextEra Energy has told Wall Street analysts that it wants to dominate the renewable energy market.