Special interest groups are working in coordination with local utilities to stall the growth of rooftop solar here in Florida, according to a new report from Environment Florida Research & Policy Center. In Florida, investor-owned utilities have targeted policies like net metering, renewable portfolio standards and power-purchase agreements.
The report, Blocking Rooftop Solar, focuses on what a national network of pro-fossil fuel lobbying groups and many utilities are promoting. These groups are campaigning to stop the growth of rooftop solar in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, California, Kansas, South Carolina and at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This years-long, multi-state effort involves coordinating strategies, tactics and funding for anti-solar campaigns. Specifically, their plan includes restrictions on or the elimination of net metering programs as well as new fixed charges on solar power system owners.
To win these changes, special interests create “astro-turf” front groups–with neutral names like the Consumer Energy Alliance–in an attempt to influence decision makers to support anti-solar legislation or regulations. “Rooftop solar is helping to clean up the air in our communities and empowering homeowners and businesses to generate their own electricity,” says Ryann Lynn, climate and clean energy advocate with Environment Florida Research & Policy Center. “Utilities and special interests are putting up obstacles to rooftop solar’s success, and it’s bad for Florida and must be stopped. Utilities are meant to be a public good, but there’s nothing good about them undermining solar.”