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A Guide To Amendment 1 Before Novermber's Election

ed young seminole county, seminole county ed young, seminole county news, news seminole county, seminole county post, florida solar power, solar power florida,

Would you want OPEC in charge of federal regulations for gasoline? Disney in charge of Florida’s tourism budget? BP in heading up the EPA?


By Edmund Young


I bet you said “No” to all three right? So why would anyone think it was a good idea to put the utility companies in charge of regulating solar energy?


You heard me right, the utility companies want you the voters to give them the green light to be in charge and regulate everything having to do with solar energy here in the Sunshine State and it’s called Amendment 1.


College professor and Florida State House 28 candidate Steve Edmonds said of Amendment 1, “Its a purposely deceitful way for the controlling interests in energy to solidify that control via the Constitution.” Amendment 1, otherwise known as the “Florida Solar Energy Subsidies and Personal Solar Use” Amendment, is the carefully crafted brainchild of the various utility companies that is hiding behind the PAC moniker “Consumers for Smart Solar”.


This behemoth of a PAC has stockpiled more money than Governor Scott’s own Let’s Get to Work PAC with the current sum in their coffers now over $21.5 million. The majority of the funds raised have come directly from the utility companies and their subsidiaries. As longtime utility customers, we all know that they don’t spend a penny unless they are expecting a dollar in return!


So what does the utility companies expect to get out of their investment? Nothing less than complete and total regulatory control over the solar energy industry here in Florida.


The carefully worded and easily misleading lines of Amendment 1 lead voters to believe that that it will give Floridians added protections and rights for owning solar energy equipment but the catch is that everything the “YES on 1 For The Sun” campaign is promising us, we already have!


The pro-Amendment1 campaign talks about providing a safe form of energy (solar is never mentioned) and ensuring that all solar energy equipment will be up to certain standards (the exact standards are never mentioned) and about making sure everyone is treated fairly whether or not they add solar energy to their property.


Federal and state energy standards already guarantee consumers that any energy they receive, including from solar energy, must fall within certain parameters. So what unsafe energy is Amendment 1 protecting us from again?


Florida as well as many counties and local municipalities already have a long series of regulations, building codes, and public safety safe guards in place that ensure any and all electrical equipment that is added to a home or business is safe for the structure and its inhabitants?


But according to Amendment 1 we need even more regulations? And of course we need to treat everyone fairly! I thought we already had something call the Constitution? Maybe Consumers for Smart Solar are hoping we forgot about it? All kidding aside, this particular part is where the utility companies are really trying to flex their muscles.


They can and will use Amendment 1 to end a process called “net metering”. Net Metering is when a property owner who uses solar energy has a surplus of energy and then sells it to the local utility company for them to sell elsewhere. A little secret here: The utility companies really hate paying others to do their job for them.


For several years now, utility companies have argued that net metering actually is harmful to the utility companies and the customers they are “forced” to pass to cost of buying energy on to.


However, in a recent study by the Brookings Institute, it was demonstrated that “…net metering frequently benefits all ratepayers when all costs and benefits are accounted for, which is a finding state public utility commissions, or PUCs, need to take seriously as the fight over net metering rages…”


Interesting, isn’t it?


Makes it sounds like the utility companies are forgetting to include some of the numbers when they make their argument, doesn’t it? In addition the study summed up its finding with: “Increasingly it concludes— whether conducted by PUCs, national labs, or academics — that the economic benefits of net metering actually outweigh the costs and impose no significant cost increase for non-solar customers.”


Sounds like net metering is a winner to me. Earlier this year, Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente said, “Let pro-solar energy consumers beware.”


She referred to Amendment 1 as “masquerading” as a pro-solar energy initiative and labeled it a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Pretty strong words for a judge to use and they are words we should heed. While I’ve already stated and repeated that the utilities are pushing for Amendment 1 to become the law of the land, who’s standing up to stop it?


The list is a long one. It includes non-profit organizations, ecological organizations and clubs, the backing of political groups ranging from Democratic, Libertarian, to Republican (support from all sides of the aisle!) as well as many elected officials and candidates for office this November. You can find a complete listing of those that oppose Amendment 1 here.


On a more local level, our very own Seminole Soil & Water Conservation District (SSWCD) board of supervisors recently and unanimously voted to oppose Amendment 1 becoming the first elected body in the state to do so. SSWCD was also the first county-wide elected body to endorse Florida’s other solar amendment this year, Amendment 4, which voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of by more than 71%.


As an elected member of SSWCD and the primary proponent for the board both endorsing Amendment 4 and opposing Amendment 1, I felt this action was necessary to stay true to our original mission to provide conservation and stewardship of our natural resources.


Environmentalist and Orange County Soil & Water Conservation District 1 candidate Maria Bolton-Joubert was recently remarked, “Amendment 1 is a deceptive initiative to confuse the average person.


At the end of the day, we need to start living up to being the Sunshine State -- we need more solar and we desperately need this as soon as possible.” So remember, on November 8th, vote to keep solar energy free.


Free of financial barriers, free of regulation, and free from the utility companies. On November 8th vote “NO” on Amendment 1!



Ed Young is a local teacher who has taught in central Florida for the last twelve years. He is a longtime Seminole County resident, financial conservative, and advocate for conserving Florida’s natural resources. He is an elected member of the Seminole County Soil & Water Conservation District where he represents Group 4 and currently serves as their treasurer. He has conducted surveys of state parks for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and presented to various community groups and organization of the benefits of solar energy.