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An open letter to Consumers for Smart Solar and Executives of the four major Utilities that are funding this Coalition; FP&L, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric & Gulf Power:

I write to you as a hopeful and yet frightened resident of South Florida. There is a groundswell of anxiety, confusion and, what appears at times, plain madness surrounding solar energy in Florida. Specifically, how will Amendment 1 affect the future of solar? And when I say the future of solar I might as well be saying, the future of our communities, our children and the planet.

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My home proudly outfitted with solar panels.

As an advocate for solar and, someone who has joined hands with every other solar entity in the country in opposing the Amendment, I am pausing for a moment. I am eager to understand what is so “smart” about this Amendment? Why the need to spend massive amounts of money promoting the Amendment? If the benefits are so clear cut why does the public need that much explaining? How can we all work together for our future?

Please help clear the air and respond to these core issues that are at the heart of every solar energy advocate that I have spoken to (and I promise I’ve done my homework). Change can be nerve-racking and anxiety-ridden. Especially in this current heated election climate it stands to reason that many are on edge and not seeing the issues clearly. So, I implore you to clarify the following six questions and help in emphasizing the commonalities of our approaches.

Q1: What changes, if any, does Consumers for Smart Solar envision, with or without passage of Amendment 1, on Florida’s net metering policy? Please be specific.

Q2: If the widely-cited Brookings study on net metering — Rooftop solar: Net metering is a net benefit — found net metering to be a net benefit and that solar is NOT subsidized by non-solar customers, how do you think net metering and other laws or regulations pertaining to solar need(s) to change in Florida?

Q3: You have said that non-solar customers subsidize solar customers. What specific subsidies would be unfair to all Floridians, especially those who don’t want to, or cannot, go solar?

Q4: If Florida’s utilities are in fact committed to an equitable solar market, would you support a mandate, with conditions, to produce a certain percent of electricity sales from solar by, say, 2025? If not, why not?

Q5: If utilities are committed to solar for the state’s benefit, including its economic future, and the jobs a robust rooftop solar market could create, why not remove the severe limits to solar in Florida now as Georgia did? That is a relevant case study to follow, is it not?

Q6: What would you say if North Carolina, Kentucky and Oklahoma all lifted their severe limits on residential solar, (as Georgia recently did) leaving Florida as the last such state?

We all must walk the walk in life to be taken seriously. Words can be confusing and misinterpreted but action is everything. Within my existing rights I have installed solar on my Delray Beach home and I drive an electric vehicle. My children see me as their “solar mom” trying to do my part. I have built up Women4Solar, an advocacy and action firm, to help others do the same. Again, I ask you, Consumers for Smart Solar and all four major Florida Utilities, how is Amendment 1 enabling the market for solar energy to grow in Florida?

The entire nation’s solar industry stands in unison, alongside 24 Florida newspapers, and over 185 organizations all opposing the amendment that you have put forth. If this amendment is designed to promote the growth of rooftop solar then why are they all opposing this? Something has gone awry and it’s time to put the issues that are keeping Floridians up at night to rest.

Our rising seas don’t discriminate; our lives and livelihood are at risk more so than almost any other place on the planet. We all want to be able to do our share and change the destructive course we are in the best way possible — while creating local jobs and supporting our local economy. We want to choose solar energy without feeling threatened and without breaking the bank. We’re not asking for a free ride, just simply a clear road without unnecessary obstacles or frightening unforeseen future penalties.

With elections around the corner, time is of the essence and clarity on these key issues would go an extremely long way. Please respond to the point by Nov 2nd at 5pm ET. We all have the right to make an informed decision when heading to the polls. Let’s work together!

With respect and much hope for a brighter future,

Raina Russo
Founder & CEO of Women4Solar

 

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