Monday, February 23, 2015

Sierra Club Florida Joins Floridians for Solar Choice Coalition

As part of our effort to free Florida’s energy grid from dirty fossil fuels, Sierra Club Florida has joined a wide-ranging coalition of conservatives and environmentalists in a campaign to put a solar energy constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot.
The “Floridians for Solar Choice” amendment will let homeowners and businesses get the benefits of solar power - no emissions, no water use, and lower power bills - without the upfront expense of buying and installing a solar system which is a significant obstacle to distributed generation in Florida.  The amendment will open the most popular method of accessing solar energy in the country to Floridians. 
The amendment provides that a company that installs a solar system on a homeowner’s roof and sells the homeowner the electricity it generates is not a “utility” and is not subject to regulation by the Public Service Commission (PSC).  Currently, it’s illegal for anyone except a “utility” to sell electricity by the kWh.  These contracts between homeowners or businesses and solar system providers are called Power Purchase Agreements or PPAs.
Floridians for Solar Choice has already gathered over 100,000 petitions and enough have been turned in to Supervisors of Elections around the state for the amendment language to be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court.  Sierra Club Florida encourages its members to go to the coalition website http://www.flsolarchoice.org/ to download and sign the petition and mail it to:
Floridians for Solar Choice
120 E. Oakland Park Blvd. Suite 105
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334
“Like” the coalition on FB and encourage your friends and families to sign the petition too.
It’s time to leave dirty fuels in the ground.  It’s dirty to extract them and their emissions dirty the air we breathe. Reducing carbon pollution is essential to mitigating the long-term effects of climate change, including sea level rise – an issue of major importance to a state with as much coastline as Florida.  This is an existential threat to communities of our state. It’s a bonus that transitioning to solar will lower monthly energy bills and create good paying jobs!
By Florida law it takes 8% of the total votes in the last presidential election to place an amendment on the ballot so the number for 2016 is 683,149 petitions.  And we’re already 1/7th of the way there! The deadline for getting all the signatures in is December of this year (2015) so all the petitions can be checked and verified by the February 2016 deadline for placing the amendment on the 2016 ballot.

The coalition includes the Tea Party Network, Libertarians, Republicans, and Democrats; environmental groups including (in addition to Sierra Club Florida) Greenpeace, Clean Water Action, Environment Florida, Ideas for Us, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and ReThink Energy; and business groups including the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), the Florida Retail Federation, and the Florid Solar Energy Industries Assoc. This is a common sense issue.  No one should be locked into getting their power from a monopoly.  Visit the coalition website http://www.flsolarchoice.org/ and send in those petitions!
David Cullen
Sierra Club Florida lobbyist