Why is net metering under attack in Florida? One word: kickbacks.
The Miami Herald described Florida Power & Light as having “cozy relationships with lawmakers from both parties thanks to generous political donations sometimes funneled through dark-money groups — more than $500,000 this election cycle alone”. It also describes FPL as “used to getting what it wants from Tallahassee.”
This is just the latest power and money grab, but it’s the most dangerous. FP&L does not want any competition. As an energy utility, they already have a monopoly… except on those who generate their own electricity through rooftop solar.
You can help Save Our Solar at https://www.savesolar.org/fl/.
What you need to know:
- With a process called net metering, Floridians with rooftop solar can generate 100% of their electricity needs by overproducing when the sun is shining, passing their excess on to the grid (which distributes it to other homes nearby), and pulling from the grid at night at a 1:1 ratio.
- The net metering arrangement promotes clean energy production by making residential solar a financially advantageous choice for homeowners.
But if the proposed bills turn into law, all of that will change.
- Buying excess energy from solar customers at avoided cost (~$0.03/kWh) rather than retail price (~$0.11/kWh)
- Allowing Investor-Owned Utilities (IOU’s) to add monthly fixed charges, access fees, or minimum bills as they see fit for solar customers
- Grandfathering current solar customers into the current arrangement for only 10 years (SB1024) or 20 years (HB741), when the warrantied life of a solar system is 25 years and they often last for 50 plus years.
The consequence of this?
- It could set the rooftop solar industry back nearly a decade
- It will erase thousands of jobs in Florida
- Deny Floridians their consumer choice and cost savings
- Rooftop solar likely won’t make financial sense any longer in the state
- FPL and other utilities can then can monopolize solar power generation and distribution, and continue to raise rates on all customers as they please
Who will benefit from this? First, the utility companies, who can further solidify their monopoly on energy generation in the state. Second, politicians like Senator Jennifer Bradley, who introduced SB1024 and received $20,000 in campaign donations to her political committee.
Here’s that link again to defend solar, if you haven’t done it yet: https://www.savesolar.org/fl/
Okay, devil’s advocate time…
Lawmakers supporting this initiative, FPL and their lobbyists say that they are protecting the average Floridian who doesn’t use solar. The utilities argue that non-solar customers are paying to maintain the grid that solar customers are using for free. They call net metering a “subsidy” (It’s not a subsidy— it’s an even trade. And by the way, the utilities who are using the excess energy are selling it to other customers, not giving it away).
And the truth is every customer, including those on solar, pays a customer fee to be attached to the grid. Nobody’s getting anything for free.
But this begs the question… does solar hurt non-solar customers?
The Miami Herald did the legwork—
That argument is disputed by solar advocates and studies. According to a Brookings Institution report, “The economic benefits of net metering actually outweigh the costs and impose no significant cost increase for non-solar customers.” Other states that looked at the issue also found solar benefits all utility customers. A 2017 paper by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a Department of Energy science lab at the University of California, found that, “For the vast majority of states and utilities, the effects of distributed solar on retail electricity prices will likely remain negligible for the foreseeable future.” (The full article can be read here.)
But let’s say that Senator Bradley and FPL are right. If this bill does become law, I suppose all utility customers across Florida will see their monthly electric bill go down?
If you believe that, I have a seven-mile bridge to sell you.
If this initiative becomes law, it’s a win for lobbyists, deep-pocketed lawmakers, and monopolies. It is a loss for the state of Florida, its residents, thousands of people who will lose their jobs, the green energy initiative, and the planet.
Our best bet is to nip this in the bud and tell legislators hands off our solar.
You can do this at https://www.savesolar.org/fl/. Please make your voice heard.
More resources can be found at https://www.flaseia.org/