Bills to encourage solar panel installations OK’d by Senate panel

solar panels (Large)

A pair of bills to allow businesses to write off the costs of installing solar panels on commercial properties got the green light Tuesday from a Senate panel.

“Occasionally a bill comes along both the Baptists and the bootleggers can agree on, and this is one of those proposals,” said St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes.

The Brandes-sponsored SB 170 SB 172 would expand a popular program devised by the Legislature several years ago that encourages Floridians to install residential solar panels on their homes, by offering a tax abatement to defray the up-front cost of installation.

Brandes’ dictum about Baptists and bootleggers proved true during the hearing, which saw strange political bedfellows such as Susan Glickman of the Southeastern Alliance for Clean Energy joining a lobbyist with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association in support of the measures.

All 10 members of the Senate Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities Committee – seven Republicans and three Democrats – voted up on the bill after no debate and a humble six appearance cards for public testimony, all waiving their time in support.

The pair of bills consist of a joint resolution declaring the Legislature’s support for extending the tax abatement and an implementing bill required to enact the changes.

Brandes’ proposal moves onto the Community Affairs panel before stops in Finance & Tax and Appropriations.

The House companion bills sponsored by Rep. Ray Rodrigues have so far not been heard. They are slated to be taken up first by the chamber’s Energy & Utilities Subcommittee.

Ryan Ray

Ryan Ray covers politics and public policy in North Florida and across the state. He has also worked as a legislative researcher and political campaign staffer. He can be reached at [email protected].


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