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Florida Amendment 1 makes solar fair for Pinellas residents
BY WATSON L. HAYNES II, President, Pinellas County Urban League
One very important issue facing Florida voters on Nov. 8 is whether they should bear the burden of higher utility rates as more consumers opt for generating their own energy with the use of solar panels. The Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice Initiative, or Amendment 1, will provide communities of color protection from electricity rate hikes that could result otherwise from the increased use of residential solar.
Citizens, particularly communities of color, should protect their consumer interests by voting for Amendment 1. Voting for the amendment protects low-income households from unfairly cross subsidizing more affluent consumers who can afford to install rooftop solar panels. An increasing number of Florida consumers are installing and using rooftop solar panels to generate electricity at their residences.
As the number of consumers employing rooftop solar increases, there will be a decreasing number of customers to pay for the maintenance costs of the electric grid. Higher rates on remaining non-solar customers’ results in cross subsidization of rooftop solar. This is unfair to low-income consumers who are already challenged by constraints on their household budgets.
Amendment 1 also provides regulators protection from legal challenges when developing and implementing consumer protection regulations. The amendment allows state and local governments to keep their abilities to protect consumer rights, public health, safety and welfare. Citizens should view Amendment 1’s promotion of consumer protection by our state and local government as another layer of protection from unfair treatment.
Amendment 1 promotes solar use while providing low income consumers much needed protection. This is the balance that Florida energy policy needs. Citizens should go to the polls and vote yes on Amendment 1.
Watson L. Haynes II is president and chief executive officer of the Pinellas County Urban League