Currently Florida is one of several states that does not allow third party leasing of solar energy systems, a practice that allows consumers to lease their systems, and then sell the excess back to the local utility company. The ballot initiative up for vote this November is actually an amendment to the state constitution, and one that could all but kill the solar energy business in Florida. Amendment #1, while allowing for the leasing of panels from the utility companies, also allows those same companies to tack on fees and taxes to those customers’ bills, bills that would normally be zero, or credit/payment to the resident. This would basically take away any incentive to move off grid unless you have the money to buy a system outright, and even that can sometimes be challenged if you live within certain boundary lines.
As is all too common, the Amendment is being pushed by a group with a name that makes it sound as if it were pro solar, Consumers for Smart Solar, are actually made up of big energy companies such as Duke Energy, Koch Exxon Mobile, Gulf Power and others. The amendment itself is written in a way to make it sound as if the state will be protecting consumers, but by adding language about how those not going solar will not be forced to subsidize those who do, they are opening the door for utility companies to add fees as they see fit to anyone who chooses to go the off grid route. The language of the amendment could even lead to the taxation of anyone who is off grid at their own expense who is still connected to the grid for backup power or to sell the excess energy.