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Guest opinion: Vote ‘Yes’ on Amendment 1 — for the sun

By Staff | Oct 28, 2016

We respectfully disagree with the Breeze Newspapers editorial that says Amendment 1 is misleading. Amendment 1 is clear and straightforward. When the Florida Supreme Court approved Amendment 1 for the ballot, the majority ruling stated, ” we find that the title and summary clearly and unambiguously inform the voter “

Amendment 1 gives Floridians a historic opportunity to advance solar in the Sunshine State, while protecting all energy consumers from scams and rip-offs.

In fact, claims made by our opponents that suggest Amendment 1 does things it doesn’t do, or that it does nothing at all are disproved by a plain reading of Amendment 1’s straightforward language, by the Supreme Court’s approval of it, and by an extensive review of it by state policy and financial experts.

So why do they oppose Amendment 1? Simply put, they don’t want you to buy your own solar panels and generate your own electricity. Why? Because they want you to buy solar electricity – from them.

Amendment 1 opponents include companies whose business model is to lock consumers into 20-year contracts to put their solar equipment on your roof and sell you the electricity from it. Here’s the other catch: The current published price for one of the leading companies, Solar City, is nearly 50 percent higher than what Floridians pay for electricity today, plus its contract includes an automatic 2.9 percent cost increase – double what Floridians normally face.

The companies that oppose Amendment 1 also want to be immune from the consumer protection rules that all other energy providers must obey. These companies are the likely funders of groups opposing Amendment 1, but we will never know because unlike our campaign, which discloses its donors, the campaign opposing Amendment 1 receives nearly 90 percent of its funding from a political organization that refuses to disclose its contributors.

But one thing we don’t have to wonder about is which side of this argument is right. Simply look at Arizona, which took our opponents’ approach. Consumers were defrauded. Seniors lost retirement savings. Home sellers lost money selling their homes because their buyers didn’t want to take over their solar contracts. Google “Arizona solar fraud” or “Arizona solar bankruptcy” and you’ll get the picture.

Solar is so important to our future that we don’t want it to get a black eye like what happened in Arizona. Here are the important ways Amendment 1 does solar right:

Amendment 1 will safeguard consumer rights, by ensuring that consumers will always have the right to generate their own solar electricity. And contrary to our opponents’ claims, under Amendment 1, solar customers can still sell any excess electricity they generate back onto the grid.

Amendment 1 does not preclude or hinder any approach to solar. It merely ensures that whatever approach to solar Florida takes, government will be able to protect consumers from scams, rip-offs and unsafe solar installations.

Amendment 1 ensures consumer fairness by allowing government to retain its current authority to stop unfair subsidies.

We all agree Florida needs more solar, but it must be done the right way – a way that safeguards consumer rights, provides consumer protection, and ensures energy fairness to all Floridians, whether they choose solar or not. Join me in voting yes on Amendment 1- for the sun. Visit SmartSolarFL.org to learn more.

Dick Batchelor, co-chairman of Consumers for Smart Solar, is a former chairman of the Florida House Energy Committee and former chairman of the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission.