Florida House sends governor contentious bill to end solar net metering

Highlights :

  • The  removal of net metering could potentially deliver a body blow to solar expansion in the residential sector, as it is a simple and most viable way for a residential consumer to go for solar.

The Florida Legislature has passed bills Florida SB 1024 and HB 741, which will slash off incentives associated with installing rooftop solar panels and curb net metering.

The process of net metering provides system owners with the opportunity to gain extra revenue by selling their excess power to the grid while also making up for shortfalls via the grid.

In net metering, the owner is billed for the “net” energy that is used, which is the difference between total energy produced by the system and total energy consumed.

The system is popular among consumers as the credits earned offset their installation costs as well as carbon emissions. As a result, however, claim the power companies in Florida, non-solar customers are left to largely bear the expenses for grid maintenance.

The controversial bills are widely seen as having been influenced by lobbyists supporting Florida Power & Light Company, the principal subsidiary of NextEra Energy and the largest power utility in Florida.

“Senate Bill 1024’s solution is to allow utilities to lower the credits solar customers receive and charge them additional costs such as minimum monthly payments, grid access fees and facility charges. The result, though, would likely be that it would stop making financial sense for consumers to invest in solar power at all. And, voila, [Florida Power & Light] FPL then can monopolize solar-power generation and distribution,” the Miami Herald‘s editorial board explained earlier this week.

The passing of the bills has led to a flurry of criticism and protestations: Nearly half of voters say they would be less likely to re-elect state lawmakers who vote for bills that raise the cost to install rooftop solar, a new poll has shown. This week, advocacy group Solar United Neighbors held a protest rally in Florida’s state capital, Tallahassee, which was reportedly attended by hundreds of household owners and solar workers from as far away as Miami.

“There’s an effort underway in our state that would dramatically restrict the ability of Floridians to tap into the power of the sun to power their homes. That’s bad for consumers, it’s bad for jobs, it’s bad for our environment and it’s certainly bad for Florida,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist has previously said.

As per the proposed five-year phaseout, starting in 2024, of billing credits, Florida homeowners will have until Dec. 31, 2028, to install rooftop solar systems before all incentives disappear under the new bill the state Senate sent to Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday after ignoring warnings that it will decimate the state’s growing solar industry.

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