Florida Public Scores a Victory for Shaping Major Community Solar Program
The Sunshine State’s largest utility Florida Power & Light (FPL) recently tried to ram through approval of a massive new community solar program at the Florida Commission. Solar is supposed to help lower electricity bills. But FPL’s proposal would have charged subscribing customers MORE than their usual electric rates for the first several years, putting solar out of reach for those who MOST need bill savings from solar.
But after Vote Solar members flooded energy regulators with messages, we scored a victory that will help shine a light on how FPL can improve clean energy offerings for all.
Solar just makes sense in sunny Florida. While solar is already powering over 10,000 good local jobs and helping families save on their energy bills, many Florida families and businesses rent or can’t afford their own panels, and can’t go solar today.
What Florida needs is community solar for all — the opportunity for Floridians to join a local solar project and share the electricity and cost-saving benefits. Floridians would be able to join a community garden for solar power, making clean energy accessible and affordable to everyone, regardless of how much they earn or what kind of place they call home.
FPL has submitted a proposal to energy regulators for the largest single utility-sponsored community solar offering in the history of the U.S. But the program currently falls far short of that affordable and accessible solar vision — requiring a seven year premium on energy bills for participants to access solar, putting it out of reach for those who most need savings now. FPL tried to push through approval for this proposal without so much as a hearing. We asked for help, and our Vote Solar members answered the call.
Hundreds of our members wrote to the Florida Commission, asking for an open hearing on how FPL’s clean energy offerings can be improved to bring solar to all. And last week, regulators responded to this groundswell of public engagement, calling for a hearing to be held this fall!
Now the public will have a voice in this important energy decision and a chance to push FPL to ensure all its customers have the chance to go solar and save.
Vote Solar also helped to bring to light the utility’s shady efforts to use this solar program to suppress customers’ support for policies that FPL views as counter to its monopoly interests. Read more in the Miami Herald.
We’re committed to keeping utilities honest and will continue to demand fair, transparent solar programs that truly engage communities and empower all Floridians with more clean energy choices.
Photo: Solar array in Groveland, Fla. – Times file