Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Vetoes Changes for Solar Power Users | Florida News | Orlando

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In a victory for the rooftop solar industry and environmental groups, Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday vetoed a controversial bill that would have made major changes to the rules for rooftop solar.

The bill (HB 741) dealt with a somewhat bizarre problem known as “net metering”. But it sparked fierce debate in this year’s legislative session, as supporters said the state should end subsidies for people with rooftop solar systems and opponents argued the measure cripple the rooftop solar industry.

DeSantis’ veto message focused on a portion of the bill that addressed the possibility of more homeowners than expected installing rooftop solar systems between July 1, 2022 and December 31, 2023 – before changes keys in the bill only begin to take effect in 2024.

If such rooftop solar usage was higher than expected during the 18-month period, utilities would have been allowed to seek to recoup lost revenue from their broader customer base. The veto message stated that “the amount recoverable under this provision is speculative and would be the responsibility of all customers”.

“As the United States is experiencing its worst inflation in 40 years and consumers have experienced steep increases in the price of gasoline and groceries, as well as rising bills, the State of Florida will not should not contribute to the financial crisis that our citizens are in. experience,” DeSantis’ veto post said.

Opponents of the bill were quick to welcome the veto, saying it would help efforts to boost renewable energy.

“We applaud Governor DeSantis’ decision to veto this bad bill and be a champion for solar jobs,” the Florida Wildlife Federation said in a Twitter post. “We must continue to work together to increase access to solar and other renewable energy resources to combat the climate crisis and provide Floridians with affordable energy solutions.”

Net metering is a system that deals with the interaction between utilities and owners of rooftop solar systems, including the credits that utilities provide for electricity generated by rooftop systems.

Owners of rooftop solar installations are required to connect to utility systems and are able to sell excess electricity and receive bill credits in return. Under rules approved in 2008 by the Florida Public Service Commission, monthly credits are provided to retail utility rates. A significant portion of the bill would have changed that to eventually provide the credits at so-called “total avoided cost” rates, which would reduce the amounts going to solar rooftop owners.

Supporters of the bill, which would have been phased in over several years, said changes were needed as utilities continue to face the overall costs of operating the power grid. They said the current system of rooftop solar credits has further shifted overall utility costs to people who don’t have solar systems.

During a March 7 debate, Senate bill sponsor Jennifer Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said the current system is “regressive” because it drives the vast majority of utility customers to subsidize owners of solar roofs.

“This bill is fair,” Bradley said. “It’s a thoughtful downhill path to get us to a (system) without subsidy.”

The bill was backed by Florida Power & Light, which aired television ads urging lawmakers to pass it. FPL said in a statement after the veto that it was “still working to provide clean, reliable power while keeping customer bills affordable.”

“We remain committed to finding a fairer net metering solution for all Floridians,” the statement said. “FPL is leading the nation’s largest solar expansion and we will continue to advance solar energy that is profitable for all of our customers.”

But the bill faced a massive outcry in the legislative session from the rooftop solar industry and environmental groups.

Opponents argued that it would remove financial incentives for property owners to install rooftop systems. This, they said, would hurt the rooftop solar industry, while also dealing a blow to increased use of renewables.

“Thank you to @GovRonDeSantis for vetoing HB741 Net Metering this PM! This harmful bill would have had a chilling effect on the FL rooftop #solar industry while it’s still just that. in its infancy,” Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director of Audubon Florida, tweeted on Wednesday. “Great news for renewables, consumers + tackling the challenge of climate change in Florida.”

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