SOLAR

Solar Choice organizers say milestone is achieved after feet drag in Tallahassee

By JOHN HOWELL The Daily Fray
March 25, 2015 8:56 pm

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Volunteers for Floridians For Solar Choice sign up supporters for solar energy policy during a recent event in Palm Harbor. (Photo via Solar Choice)

Solar supporters are one-tenth of the way to putting solar energy policy on the 2016 ballot. Roughly 72,000 signatures are officially in the books, and 683,149 total are needed by Feb. 1, but hey, who’s counting? Apparently no one was counting in Tallahassee for about a week, according to Floridians for Solar Choice.

“After a short and unnecessary delay, we are thrilled to reach this important milestone,” Solar Choice chairman Tory Perfetti said.

Solar Choice is seeking a state amendment to allow Floridians who generate solar electricity to sell it directly to others. State law allows only utility companies to do that.

solardrivevol.jpgThe signatures announced Tuesday were certified by the state Board of Elections and allow the state Supreme Court to review the initiative for a statewide vote in November 2016. Solar Choice said the signature threshold was cleared more than a week ago and expressed frustration with officials in Tallahassee.

“We can't ascertain the rationale [for the delay]. Is it bureaucratic inefficiency or is there something more?" Stephen Smith, head of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said in the Tampa Bay Times.

Solar Choice is a broad coalition of political, business and clean energy supporters, including the Southern Alliance. The coalition received a boost this week when the Solar Energy Industries Association joined up.

“This fight is about consumer choice and private property rights – cherished, long-standing American principals that we strongly support,” SEIA president Rhone Resch said in a statement.

Florida was 20th in the U.S. last year in new solar capacity, according to SEIA, a trade organization that dates to 1973.

“For a state that touts itself as the Sunshine State, that’s a huge disappointment,” Resch said.

Solar Choice estimates it probably needs to raise $8 million to $10 million to counter pushback from old guard utilities such as FPL and Duke Energy.

Solar Choice also ramped up grassroots efforts with nine new petition centers, according to its Facebook page. There are 23 Petition Distribution Centers from Pensacola to Key Largo – but none in Tallahassee.

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