Florida Shouldn’t Let Power Companies Use Legislators to Bully Middle-class Homeowners
The growing Florida solar industry provides nearly 40,500 jobs, but big power companies and the lawmakers in their pockets want to pass legislation that would kneecap the industry and prevent us from harnessing one of our biggest competitive advantages: sunshine.
Gov. Ron DeSantis must veto these bills.
Solar panels only produce electricity during daylight hours, but Floridians still need them after the sun goes down. Excess energy captured throughout the day is sent back to the utility company, which then sells it to other homes. This process, called net metering, is at the center of this harmful legislation.
A fair net metering policy reimburses the solar owner for their energy with a credit at the full rate. Then, at night, the solar owner will purchase energy from the utility company using this credit, leaving them with a net zero, meaning they do not have to pay additional money to the power company.
Net metering makes solar affordable for hardworking, middle- and low-income Florida families. As a relative percentage of their earnings, low-income households spend up to three times more of their income on energy than those with larger paychecks. This is a significant issue, as energy usage is nonnegotiable. By zeroing out a power bill, it’s possible to finance a solar-powered system and fix energy costs at a low rate that never increases. Plus, over time, the system pays for itself. Adding a personal power plant to one’s roof also increases the value of the property overnight, making it a shrewd investment and a potential game changer for the finances of the most vulnerable.
SB 1024 and HB 741 are seeking to end this practice to the detriment of Florida families. Big power’s argument is that solar owners are not paying their fair share of grid fees and upkeep costs. But rooftop solar isn’t using the grid in the same way as businesses or high energy consumers. Instead of traveling hundreds of miles from a power plant in high-voltage cables, the energy is utilized at the source. This reduces stress on the grid during peak times — like when the sun is hottest and thermostats are set to coldest.
It’s clear big power isn’t thinking about what’s best for Floridians, instead acting out of their own self-interest. For the last century, utility companies have been basically operating as a monopoly: They own the infrastructure connected to your home, and you have no option but to pay them whatever they demand on your bill. For homeowners, solar power represents the only viable alternative. Not only is solar viable, it is a cheaper, cleaner, calculated investment; covering the power demands and increasing the value of the property.
Utility companies say the lost revenue from homes with solar will have to be passed to homes without solar. Meanwhile, the sponsor of this bill is owned by a $150 billion company with revenues of $16.4 billion in 2021 alone. There are many solutions that can address the utilities’ concerns while keeping fairness in net metering.
Approximately 1% of rooftops in Florida have solar today. Studies have shown the cost increases are negligible at less than 10% market penetration. So, there could be a conversation around contributing to grid upkeep and improvements when that milestone is within sight. One option we can’t consider, however, is the protection of corporate revenues at the expense of hardworking Floridians and a burgeoning and indispensable industry.
Gov. Ron DeSantis must act so that Florida homeowners and small businesses continue to have access to affordable, clean energy that improves their bottom line and strengthens our competitive advantage as the Sunshine State.
Josh Moore is the owner of Masterpiece Solar, a Jacksonville-based company that facilitates residential and commercial solar projects. Originally from London, Josh earned a masters in astrophysics in the United Kingdom before moving to enjoy (and utilize) the Florida sunshine. You can reach him by email or on LinkedIn.