Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Solar backers go to court in petition dispute

TALLAHASSEE — After acknowledging this month that the initiative might not make the 2016 ballot, backers of a proposed solar-energy constitutional amendment have filed a federal lawsuit against a petition-gathering firm, court documents show.

The group Floridians for Solar Choice filed the lawsuit last week in South Florida amid a contract dispute with the petition firm PCI Consultants Inc. The dispute, in part, has included PCI holding 212,000 signed petition signatures as it seeks payment for expenses that Floridians for Solar Choice contends are beyond what the group agreed to pay, according to the lawsuit.

The case also appears to make clear that Floridians for Solar Choice will not meet a Feb. 1 deadline for submitting 683,149 petition signatures to get on the November 2016 ballot. The group had submitted 273,280 signatures to the state as of Tuesday afternoon. The process also involves getting petitions validated by county elections supervisors.

One line in the lawsuit, alluding to PCI holding petitions, said the "failure to deliver the signed petitions to the counties rendered it impossible for FSC (Floridians for Solar Choice) to have its proposed amendment placed on the ballot."

Along with filing the lawsuit last Wednesday, Floridians for Solar Choice requested that the case be sent to arbitration. As of Tuesday afternoon, PCI had not filed documents in response to the lawsuit, according to an online docket.

The Floridians for Solar Choice initiative, which has been heavily supported by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, seeks to increase the use of solar power by taking steps such as easing regulations. In part, it would allow businesses to generate and sell up to two megawatts of solar power to customers on the same or neighboring properties.

But the proposal has faced fierce opposition from major electric utilities and spawned a rival solar-energy ballot initiative by a group known as Consumers for Smart Solar. That utility-backed initiative, which had raised and spent about $5.9 million as of the end of November, had submitted 519,583 petition signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.

Floridians for Solar Choice, by comparison, had raised about $1.5 million as of the end of November. Of that total, it paid about $1.2 million to PCI for petition-gathering, with payments dated from Feb. 6 to Nov. 19, according to a state campaign-finance database. In the lawsuit, Floridians for Solar Choice said it terminated the contract Nov. 19 because of the dispute about expenses.

In an interview Dec. 18 with the News Service of Florida, Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said initiative supporters had started exploring options for appearing on the 2018 ballot, calling the decision a "strategic pivot point."

Solar backers go to court in petition dispute

12/29/15 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 29, 2015 7:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: No more VinikVille as Water Street Tampa finally arrives

    Business

    Adios, VinikVille! Hello Water Street Tampa.

    An aerial rendering of the $3 billion redevelopment project that Jeff Vinik and Strategic Property Partners plan on 50-plus acres around Amalie Arena.
[Rendering courtesy of Strategic Property Partners]
  2. Finally, Jeff Vinik's vision has a name: Water Street Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — For years, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and the real estate executives he employs have been dreaming how to transform 53 acres of downtown Tampa into a major hub of living, working and entertaining in the city's core.

    Strategic Property Partners announced the name of its new development: Water Street Tampa. This rendering shows the Tampa skyline with SPP's future buildings in place. [Photos courtesy of SPP]
  3. Future, Ruff Ryders reunion tour coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

    Blogs

    Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre is in the midst of a killer summer of rock (Green Day, Muse, Linkin Park) and country (Sam Hunt, Lady Antebelleum, Dierks Bentley).

    Future
  4. Rubio remains noncommital on Obamacare replacement but a likely yes vote

    Blogs

    Sen. Marco Rubio has been bombarded with phone calls, emails and on Monday, protests took place outside his offices in Doral and Palm Beach Gardens. But while the effort is most unlikely to dissuade the Florida Republican from voting for the Obamacare replacement -- if it even comes up for a vote this week -- he remains …

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks at an event in Miami, Friday, June 16, 2017, where President Donald Trump announced a revised Cuba policy aimed at stopping the flow of U.S. cash to the country's military and security services while maintaining diplomatic relations.
  5. James Wilder Jr. back at running back...in Canada

    Blogs

    Remember when former Plant High star and Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. announced he was switching to linebacker?

    That was short-lived, apparently.