Florida Amendment 1 makes solar fair for Pinellas residents

Watson Haynes


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.

Watson Haynes

Watson Haynes

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

3 Replies to “Florida Amendment 1 makes solar fair for Pinellas residents”

  1. Anthony says:

    Very disappointing Mr. Haynes would fall for this solar scam. Virtually all progressive and many republicans including many in Pinellas are in agreement AGAINST Amendment 1. If you care about solar energy vote NO on Amendment 1.

  2. Vote No on Amendment 1. This is a scam by the big monopoly utilities that have already spent almost $23 million to make it harder for consumers to get solar. That’s why 30 major newspapers have endorsed No on Amendment 1.


  3. Casey says:

    Very disappointed and surprised you fell for this scam. The power companies (TECO, Progress Energy) are spending MILLIONS of dollars–money that could be going toward cost of power, maintenance of facilities, etc.– to get people to fall for their scam about Amendment 1, and you took the bait hook, line, and sinker. You literally are telling people to vote for an amendment that will impose fees on businesses and citizens who are exercising their rights to pursue clean solar energy. First, solar companies are creating jobs. Second, by investing in solar energy, businesses will reduce their overhead costs within just 5-8 years by reducing or eliminating their energy costs, meaning that they won’t have to raise their prices on consumers as much in the future. And third, private citizens who invest in solar will be able to save money after their investment so they in turn can put more money back into the economy through sales with local businesses, restaurants, etc.

    How about instead of telling people to vote for an amendment that limits citizens’ rights by imposing unconstitutional fees, you instead encourage people to write to their legislators to get them to fight these overreaching utility corporations. These companies have taken two BILLION dollars for customers to fund updates that were never completed and to fund construction on facilities that were never built. Encourage people to fight back against the companies instead of punishing citizens who are trying to engage in responsible citizenship by investing in solar. These companies have the money (we’ve paid them through their imposed fees over the last number of years!) to maintain facilities — they are choosing to not use it for those purposes. So hold them accountable!

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