Halloween horror extended to November


From the original superstitious rituals to a community-based celebration, Halloween marks the transition between brighter summer days to dark, cold winter nights. Even though there was a change in tone, scary and sometimes grotesque are still part of the celebration making up the many Halloween Horror parties around us. This year, the horror of Halloween is sneaking into November and making it onto the ballot.

Among the horrors that we will find printed on the ballot, one is in the form of a ballot measure that the Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente described as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” in her dissenting opinion. That measure is Amendment 1, entitled Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice, considered “misleading not because of what it says, but what it fails to say.” Justice Pariente identified Amendment 1 as a “pro-utility amendment” and concluded that “clearly, this is an amendment geared to ensure nothing changes with respect to the use of solar energy in Florida — it is not a ‘pro-solar’ amendment.”

If Amendment 1 is not a pro-solar amendment, what is it then?

Simply put, it is an anti-free-market proposal that “allows state and local government to impose all manner of fees and regulations on solar users” while preventing the use of “decentralized rooftop solar electricity [which would] provide net benefits by reducing the stress on the grid during the daytime, cutting expenditures on fossil fuels, and making privately funded clean energy available to all” (Neville Williams). In Florida, only electric utilities can sell electricity so “you can't arrange to buy power from a third-party solar contractor” (motherjones.com) and utility companies want to keep it that way.

Amendment 1 pretends to be a pro-solar amendment, when in fact it is not even a ghost of one.

Amendment 1 also pretends to be about protecting consumer rights to own or lease solar equipment, when in reality consumers already have that right afforded through the Florida Constitution and other statutes and regulations. 

Amendment 1 claims to better protect consumer rights but, according to Stephen A. Smith, the executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, “the only people [Amendment 1] would protect are utility shareholders” by preventing non-utility companies from providing solar-generated electricity directly to customers (cleanenergy.org).

As you can see, the language that will be on the ballot is scarily misleading: “This amendment establishes a right under Florida's constitution for consumers to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use. State and local governments shall retain their abilities to protect consumer rights and public health, safety and welfare, and to ensure that consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do.”

So whose idea was it to put forth such wicked amendment?

Amendment 1 is sponsored by Consumers for Smart Solar, Inc. and the list of its proponents includes the Florida Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc.; Florida Power & Light Company; Tampa Electric Company; Duke Energy Florida; and Gulf Power Company.

Opponents of the amendment include Floridians for Solar Choice, Inc.; Environment Florida, Inc.; The Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, Inc.; Florida Solar Energy Industries Association; and Florida Energy Freedom, Inc.

With the support for good solar policy displayed by 73 percent of voters in this past primary election, Pamela Goodman, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, warns that “in November, the utilities are hoping to ride on this wave of solar support — but they are also counting on voters to ignore the fine print” and fall under their spell.

So, voters, beware. If you support solar, don’t get tricked. Vote NO on Amendment 1 this November. VV

Email Marcia Booth at Marcia@3RsAndBeyond.org