Make us your home page
Instagram

Romano: The real scoop on the dueling solar power amendments

Soon, the debate over solar power will truly begin.

One constitutional amendment is being reviewed by the state Supreme Court today, and a competing amendment is waiting in the wings.

Should the amendments past muster legally, and if they both meet petition requirements, it will eventually be up to voters to decide on Florida's solar direction.

And what are the voters' choices? Either move forward or stand still.

Admittedly, that's a scaled-down assessment of the two proposals. Sort of like saying McDonald's has hamburgers and KFC has chicken. It may not be a perfect description, but it's pretty close to reality.

So here's what the two groups are actually proposing:

Floridians for Solar Choice: They want to make solar power available for purchase from someone other than a utility company. Theoretically, this would make solar energy more accessible because manufacturers pay for the necessary equipment, and the consumer buys power from them through an agreed-upon rate.

Consumers for Smart Solar: They want the status quo to be reaffirmed in the state's Constitution, i.e. only utility companies can sell energy.

Now, you might be asking yourself, why do we need a constitutional amendment that doesn't change anything? Good question. The answer is we don't.

Even if you're not a fan of solar energy, or you don't like the idea of solar companies selling energy directly to businesses and consumers, you need only vote against the "choice" amendment and you've already struck a blow for the status quo.

But the state's power companies are so dead set against the idea of people getting solar power from someone else, they aren't willing to risk a simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote. They've put their considerable heft behind the competing amendment, even if it does nothing other than to confuse potential voters.

Former state legislator Dick Batchelor, co-chair of Consumers for Smart Solar, recently took part in a solar debate at a Florida Association of Counties conference. I asked him afterward whether his amendment was a reaction to the "choice" proposal.

"Yes, it is, we're not trying to hide from that," he said. "We think it's a bad amendment."

Batchelor's argument is that the "choice" amendment favors solar companies more than consumers. He also says energy laws do not belong in the Constitution.

He's right about that last point. The problem is our leaders in Tallahassee have virtually ignored the rise of solar power as an increasingly inexpensive energy source. That's why Florida lags behind so many states in solar production.

"I understand the frustration with the Legislature. We all have encountered that at times," Batchelor said. "But that's the process we have."

Unfortunately, it's a flawed process because too many of our legislators act like paid shills for the electric companies. And the result is you — the consumer, the taxpayer, the voter — are getting royally scammed by power companies that profit off more expensive energy-producing sources.

So, yes, tacking a solar energy amendment onto the Constitution is not ideal. And you may well have questions about all the implications involved.

On the other hand, anything so vociferously opposed by utilities companies and their ethically challenged floozies in the Legislature can't be all bad.

Romano: The real scoop on the dueling solar power amendments 08/31/15 [Last modified: Monday, August 31, 2015 8:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  2. Miami woman, 74, admits to voter fraud. Does jail await, or will she go free?

    State Roundup

    MIAMI — An 74-year-old woman pleaded guilty Monday to filling out other people's mail-in ballots while working at Miami-Dade's elections department.

    Gladys Coego
  3. Bigger ships carry Georgia ports to record cargo volumes

    Economic Development

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Bigger ships arriving through an expanded Panama Canal pushed cargo volumes at Georgia's seaports to record levels in fiscal 2017, the Georgia Ports Authority announced Monday.

    The Port of Savannah moved a record 3.85 million container units in fiscal 2017, the state said, benefiting from the larger ships that can now pass through an expanded Panama Canal.
  4. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride

    Florida

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  5. Would you let your company implant a chip in you?

    Working Life

    Would you ask an employee to get a chip implanted in her hand? Sounds invasive and intrusive. But come Aug. 1, one company in Wisconsin will be giving it a try.

    Three Square Market - a developer of software used in vending machines - is offering all of its employees the option to get a microchip implanted between the thumb and forefinger. [Photo from video]