Florida Lawmakers Show Leadership by Asking Voters to Remove Tax Barriers to Solar
There’s exciting news from Florida, where Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and Representative Ray Rodrigues (R-Fort Myers) have given Florida citizens an opportunity to weigh in directly on a measure to clear the way for more solar in the Sunshine State. House Joint Resolution 193 puts a constitutional amendment on the August 30 statewide primary ballot for citizens to vote on extending a property tax exemption for renewable energy, including solar, on commercial and residential properties. The bill was widely supported by local businesses and major energy consumers.
Florida’s high property taxes have long been a major barrier for consumers wanting to go solar. The state started to alleviate this cost for residential customers through an exemption, and this newly-passed legislation would put things in motion for commercial and industrial customers to get those same tax exemptions.
So what’s next? It goes to the people. In August, Florida voters will now have the opportunity to approve the measure, which will then authorize the legislature to exempt commercial and industrial solar from the personal property tax. It’s complicated, but it’s a great thing for Florida solar.
It’s also important to note that this tax relief measure on the August ballot should have broad-based support, and it has not generated the kind of polarized opposition that we have seen around the less-sunny solar measure that will be on the November general election ballot.
All across America, big and small companies alike are going solar because it’s good for business, and this legislation marks an important step toward bringing those same energy options and economic benefits to the Sunshine State. We applaud Florida lawmakers’ leadership on this issue, and support the business community in its efforts to clear the way for investment in job-creating, cost-saving solar power.
And we’re not alone…
“Increased use of free, homegrown solar energy just makes business sense, especially in a state with such abundant sunshine,” said Randy Miller, President and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “We commend Representative Rodrigues for championing legislation that will give Florida voters the chance to open the market to new solar opportunities and clear the way for retailers to further invest in Florida and in our energy future.”
“Representative Rodrigues supports much needed common sense efforts to expand opportunities for solar investment in Florida,” said Julio Fuentes, President and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “This business-friendly legislation would allow Florida companies to manage their energy bills with affordable solar and invest further in business and job growth. These bills represent a tax fairness issue that should gain legislative approval and allow voters decide on the ballot.”
“We applaud and thank Senator Brandes and Representative Rodriguez for their leadership on this legislation which will give Florida citizens an opportunity to weigh in directly on expanding solar energy across the state,” said Trish Fields, Vice President, State Partnerships and Strategic Engagement at AEE. “In 2014, the advanced energy industry in Florida, inclusive of solar energy, was valued at $6.2 billion. We look forward to seeing the continued growth of the industry thanks to policies such as this that will allow for economic growth in the Sunshine State.”
“This legislation creates tax fairness for the solar energy industry and will enable the industry to grow in a state with significant solar energy potential,” said Kristen Thornburg, Southeast Regional Manager at SEIA. “We applaud the bill sponsors and the Florida legislature for acting to create solar energy jobs in the Sunshine State.”
“We are proud to be headquartered in Florida and this proposed tax abatement would encourage more businesses to go solar in our home state,” said Gary Kassem, Founder and President, of SunConnect, which is based in Naples, Florida. “We applaud our state leaders who see the economic potential of solar and want to break down barriers and stimulate growth of this clean energy source, using our vast solar resources.”