Even a $26 million cash infusion from electric utilities and lobbyists wasn’t enough to persuade Florida voters to pass a proposed constitutional amendment on residential solar installations last week.
The proposed amendment needed 60% of the vote to win approval, but on election day only about half the voters were in favor, The Miami Herald reported.
Florida law currently allows homeowners to own or lease solar panels, but third-party sales and power purchase agreements are not permitted. The controversial proposal sought to “constitutionalize the status quo,” in the words of Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente, and was roundly criticized by solar advocates as a way to restrict the growth of solar.
Efforts to defeat the proposal were led by a group called Floridians for Solar Choice, which said that the vote was a “David v. Goliath victory.”
“We defeated one of the most egregious and underhanded attempts at voter manipulation in this state’s history,” the group’s chairman, Tory Perfetti, said.
The measure looked like it was cruising toward easy approval this summer, but in mid-October the newspaper published leaked comments from a utility-supported think tank director who boasted the amendment would “negate” efforts to promote solar energy. Opponents turned up the heat and got help from Elon Musk, Jimmy Buffett, and former Governor Bob Graham, among others, and these efforts helped swing the vote.
The Herald said that utilities were expected to turn to the state legislature or Public Service Commission for help in weakening Florida’s net-metering laws and ending tax rebates for solar customers.
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