Leaked tape: Solar chicanery guiding strategy for big utilities, Amendment 1

October 19, 2016 5:46 pm

Amendment 1, misdeeds, and audiotape emerged in an in-depth report in the Miami Herald that claims Florida electric companies collaborated — flexing more than $21 million in "political jiu-jitsu" — to deceive voters regarding a hotly contested utility-funded solar power initiative.

The story by Mary Ellen Klas is based on an audiotape acquired by the Herald. Sal Nuzzo, a vice president at the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee, detailed the strategy used by the state’s largest utilities to create and finance Amendment 1 at the State Energy/Environment Leadership Summit in Nashville Oct. 2.

In the tape, Nuzzo, who is linked to Amendment 1's utility-funded supporters, says the amendment is “an incredibly savvy maneuver” that “would completely negate anything [pro-solar interests] would try to do either legislatively or constitutionally down the road,” according to the Herald.

A coalition of pro clean-energy groups reacted Wednesday in a press conference.

"This tape shows the extraordinary lengths of deception, the utter disrespect for [voters] and the arrogance of big monopoly utilities embedded [in Amendment 1 Nov. 8], said Stephen Smith, director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and a co-founder of Floridians for Solar Choice.

Smith said “power companies use what they arrogantly call ‘political jiu-jitsu’” to extend Amendment 1 as pro-solar.

Sarah Bascom, spokeswoman for Consumers for Smart Solar — the sponsor of Amendment 1 — said that Nuzzo’s comments are “simply not true.”

“Consumers for Smart Solar has no knowledge of what JMI is claiming,” Bascom said in a statement. “Nobody from JMI either participated in or was asked to participate in the planning or drafting of our amendment or campaign efforts, nor do we know the person who made these comments.”

The report comes at a time when Amendment 1 was polling favorably and seemingly ahead of the 60 percent threshold to adopt a Florida amendment.


"We now have clear evidence that utilities are using an issue with strong voter support — solar — to mislead Florida voters in order to continue protecting their profits," said Pamela Goodman of the League of Women Voters Florida. "Amendment 1 is a con job and a scam that is very dangerous for the voters and consumers of Florida."



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