Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Files Opposition to Solar Ballot Initiative

Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Files Opposition to Solar Ballot Initiative
Photo courtesy Buntrabe via Wikimedia Commons

The Solar Wars continue. This time, the battlefield is the Florida Supreme Court, which is in the process of hashing out an opinion related to the ballot initiative set forth by Floridians for Solar Choice, a bipartisan group of green energy backers who want to circumvent the usual process of solar power, taking the option right to voters. As Florida's highest court mulls over the language of the proposal, supporters and detractors can file opinions about the ballot with the court. Enter from stage right Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which recently filed an opposition to the motion. 

The chamber is one of the biggest ethnicity-anchored business organizations in the state, representing some 80,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in Florida. This week, the organization outlined its concerns over the proposal in a court filing. In sum, its concerns break down to matters of transparency; the chamber feels the ballot isn't clear about what voters are actually greenlighting. 

Its concerns are on two fronts. One is possible increases to electric cost caused by solar. "A citizen may want to vote 'yes' to increase solar choice, but the vote may be 'no' if the ballot fully informed the voters of the potential adverse consequence on overall electric rates or the other issues that may arise from granting exempt status to the Solar Providers," the filing state. 

Also, the organization is worried the ballot will skirt existing regulation. "Voters should clearly know from the ballot language the consequences resulting from deregulating the solar industry; it's a matter of common sense and consumer protection," Julio Fuentes, president and CEO of the chamber, said this week in a release. 

Floridians for Solar Choice also recently filed its own brief with the court supporting its proposal. The group also issued a statement brushing off the opposition brief filed against the proposal. 

"We believe that briefs filed by opponents don’t present a viable threat to the success of our effort to bring free market principles and consumer choice to all Floridians,” Tory Perfetti, chairman of Floridians for Solar Choice, said this week in a release. “Florida’s families and businesses deserve to have more choices as to how they power their homes and businesses." 

Right now, the court will continue to collect briefs, both yea and nay, until June 30. On September 1, it will hear oral arguments on the proposed language. So far, ballot supporters have collected 88,167 verified signatures in support of the proposal. If the court OKs the language, supporters will need to scoop up an additional 600,000 votes by February 2016 to get the initiative on the ballot the following November. 


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