The strange political bedfellows that are hoping to revitalize Florida's solar industry are taking another step toward that goal. Floridians for Solar Choice bills itself as a "grassroots citizens' effort to allow more homes and businesses to generate electricity by harnessing the power of the sun."
Right now the organization -- which is made up of free-market conservatives and eco-friendly activists -- has unveiled web site to collect signatures -- the first step toward getting an actual pro-solar initiative on the 2016 ballot.
The web site -- flsolarchoice.org -- allows you to download the petition and fill it out. The proposal, according to the Tampa Tribune, allows homeowners interested in solar to bypass the state's power utilities like Florida Power & Light -- companies that have fought the solar industry in the last year. From the Tribune:
Here's how it would work: A homeowner who wants to install solar, but can't afford the up-front costs, can instead "buy" the electricity produced by the solar arrays from the company that installed them. Proponents say the electricity will be cheaper than power from the utility company. Once the solar panels are paid off, the resident owns the power source, ensuring low utility bills for a decade or more.
The first step in getting the proposal before voters: organizers need to collect 68,000 signatures for the Florida Supreme Court to review the language. If the highest court green lights the proposal, 612,000 signatures would need to be collected by February 1, 2016 for the item to actually make it to election day.
Do enough Floridians support solar power? A 2008 poll conducted by the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association found that 85 percent of Floridians supported moves by the legislature to increase solar production. A March 2014 poll conducted by the Alliance for Solar Choice found that 77 percent of Floridians quizzed on the issue supported net metering -- the process by which people with solar panels on their houses get credit on the electric bill for the energy their rooftop set-ups produce.
Despite that public support, the ballot initiative will likely be no easy deal. Florida's utility companies, not great pals to private solar options in the past, will likely put up a fight.
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