~ Florida’s net metering policies allow individuals to exchange excess solar energy for a bill credit ~
TALLAHASSEE – Ahead of a crucial regulatory workshop, two organizations supporting continued access to home solar power in Florida today released a report warning that large utility monopolies are threatening Floridians’ solar rights and individual freedom to choose how they will receive their supply of electric power.
The groups, Solar United Neighbors and Vote Solar, issued a report that details how the potential elimination of a policy called net metering would undermine the energy independence of current and future Florida solar users. The report, “The State of Rooftop Solar in Florida,” highlights how net metering provides an added layer of resilience for communities during hurricanes and other major storms, and its elimination would jeopardize the jobs of more than 12,000 Floridians who were employed in the solar industry prior to the coronavirus crisis.
“Net metering ensures fairness for solar owners and all electric customers,” said Angela DeMonbreun, regional director for Solar United Neighbors. “It is the lynchpin of our right to take control of where our electricity comes from. This right shouldn’t go away because it means a monopoly utility is making less money.”
Net metering, which is used in 42 states, allows families and businesses to receive a bill credit for the excess energy produced from their solar panels. Extra energy produced by a household system goes into the grid where the utility provider can sell it to other customers, and the owner gets a credit on their electric bill, which they can use at another time.
The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC), which regulates electric utilities, will hold a workshop Sept. 17 to consider a request to revisit Florida’s existing net metering policy – potentially prohibiting or severely curtailing the policy.
“Florida-grown, home-powered rooftop solar grows our economy, creates local jobs that can’t be outsourced, and helps families control their electric bills,” said Katie Chiles Ottenweller, Southeast Director for Vote Solar. “That’s why the Legislature unanimously decided in 2008 to protect solar rights. Now more than ever, those rights need and deserve protection.”
The report issued today notes that as costs for solar panels have continued to fall, solar’s role on America’s grid still accounts for just 1.5% of all electric generation. Despite the growth of solar in Florida, the state still lags behind that national average, with under 1% of Florida electricity coming from solar in 2018. In contrast, North Carolina generated more than 4.5% of its electricity from solar that year. Florida instead relies heavily on natural gas to generate 70% of its electricity, at a rate far higher than the rest of the nation.
The PSC reported that last year, nearly 60,000 Florida households and businesses had gone solar, representing just 0.5% of all customers. Twenty five other states have higher rooftop solar adoption than the “Sunshine State.” Elimination of net metering would amount to a personal attack on the private finances of those customers, Solar United Neighbors and Vote Solar said. They noted that solar creates more jobs per megawatt hour of electricity generated than any other source of energy.
A copy of the “State of Rooftop Solar in Florida” report is available here.
Vote Solar and SUN will be hosting a webinar on the findings in the report on Friday, Sept. 4 at noon. Registration is available here.