Florida Supreme Court to hear arguments on competing solar ballot options

On Monday March 7, Floridians for Solar Choice and other interested parties will address Florida’s Supreme Court in opposition to the utility-backed solar amendment promoted by Consumers for Smart Solar.

“Opponents and their lawyers will demonstrate how the utility-backed, sham solar petition is misleading to voters and not based on a single subject, the two requirements that the high court must evaluate,” according to a March 3 news release by Floridians for Solar Choice.

Florida remains one of very few states where current laws expressly deny citizens and businesses the freedom to buy solar power electricity directly from someone other than an electric utility, according to Floridians for Solar Choice.

The Solar Choice organization has been seeking to change this through a measure on the November election ballot.

But the utility-backed Consumers for Smart Solar organization has sought to make an amendment to the ballot language and a legal dispute has ensued. The Florida Supreme Court will now consider the issue.

“Amendment 1 helps those who choose solar by allowing state and local governments to pass commonsense consumer protection regulations, designed to prevent fraud, abuse and overcharging,” according to the Smart Solar group. “Non-solar customers who use traditional energy are protected by these regulations and we think solar customers should be protected, too.”

“Even if you don’t choose solar, Amendment 1 works for you by ensuring that everyone who uses the electric grid helps pay to maintain it—including big, out-of-state companies,” said Consumers for Smart Solar.

Electric utilities on the other side of the case include Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) subsidiary Duke Energy Florida; NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) subsidiary Florida Power & Light (FPL); TECO Energy (NYSE:TE) subsidiary Tampa Electric and Southern (NYSE:SO) subsidiary Gulf Power.

Oral arguments are scheduled to start around 10 a.m. A maximum of thirty minutes to the side is allowed for the argument,

“This Court is reviewing a proposed constitutional amendment dealing with solar power for homes,” according to the state Supreme Court website.

“The Court reviews citizen initiatives for compliance with two requirements: the proposed amendment must deal with one issue only and the ballot title and summary must fairly describe the change to the Florida Constitution. The Court also reviews a financial impact statement prepared by state analysts estimating the potential consequences of the amendment,” according to the oral argument summary on the website.

The case numbers are NOS.: SC15-2150; SC16-12.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.