The statewide push to get a solar power proposal on the 2016 ballot recently hit a milestone. Backers of the proposal announced last week that they'd secured enough initial signatures to send the proposal to the Florida Supreme Court. It's an important first step for backers of the proposal, which seeks to cut-out Florida's powerful utility companies from the solar equation. Considering the opposition the utilities have mounted against efforts to set up a progressive policy for sun power in the Sunshine State, many solar industry folks feel the ballot is the state's best shot.
In a release last week, Floridians for Solar Choice announced they had secured 72,000 verified signatures for their proposal. Under state law, the language of the ballot proposal will now be shipped off to the State Attorney's office. The office will then request an "advisory opinion" from the state Supreme Court to verify the legal language of the proposal.
According to a county-by-county break down of those first signatures from the Division of Elections, it appears a good portion of the proposal's support is coming from Broward. The county notched 10,287 signatures as of March 23. Palm Beach accounted for 4,704 signatures.
“After a short and unnecessary delay, we are thrilled to reach this important milestone. It shows broad support among Florida’ families and businesses for removing barriers to commerce in solar power," Tory Perfetti, chairman for Floridians for Solar Choice, announced in a press release last week. "Further, we look forward to working with the Attorney General and her professional staff to quickly move this petition to the Supreme Court for an advisory opinion."
If the highest court OKs the language, the ballot's backers will need to hit the road and gather an additional 600,000 signatures before February 2016.
So what are the proposal's backers asking people to sign up for? The proposal would allow homeowners to purchase solar power directly from a supplier. Under this proposal, a homeowner who can't front the cost for their own solar instillation could have a company set one up on their property, then buy the electricity their home unit is producing from the company until the instillation is paid off. The proposal basicallt removes the utilities from the process, taking their hands off the consumer's access to the power grid.
The group behind the proposal has drawn an oddball assortment of support for the initiative — groups who you wouldn't expect to share a lot of common interests. Floridians for Solar Choice's web site lists the following groups among their backers: Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy; Christian Coalition of America; Libertarian Party of Florida; Southern Alliance for Clean Energy; Green Party of Florida; Sierra Club Florida; The Tea Party Network.
So, like we said, not exactly groups you'd expect to find at the same party. But, should the Supreme Court sign off on the ballot language, supporters are going to need all the help they can get wrangling signatures by early 2016.