Net metering bill gets first House panel OK, despite fierce solar opposition
Jacksonville City Council will have to approve the deal Tuesday.

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'As (the solar industry) grows it will absolutely turn into a cost shift for those that don’t have it.'

Legislation favored by Florida Power & Light (FPL) and other utility monopolies to require future rooftop solar panel customers to pay higher rates was approved by the House Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee Thursday.

Under current law, solar panel owners who have excess energy generated by the panels can sell it back to the utilities at the retail rate the utilities charge other customers. The bill (HB 741) would require a cheaper wholesale price be charged to the utilities.

Supporters of the bill claim solar customers are being subsidized by other utility customers because they rely on the underlying electric grid — and its lines, maintenance and other infrastructure costs — when the panels don’t generate enough electricity.

Rep. Lawrence McClure, a Dover Republican who is sponsoring the bill, argued he’s attempting to address the unfair subsidy rooftop solar owners enjoy now. Although the 19,000 owners in Florida today generate just 0.8% of the state’s power, that number is poised to skyrocket in the future and could lead to a large cost burden being placed on non-solar owners.

“As (the solar industry) grows it will absolutely turn into a cost shift for those that don’t have it,” McClure said. The bill is “looking in the future and saying, ‘How do we provide a path that avoids a train wreck?’”

McClure and the committee amended the bill to increase the time current owners of solar panels are grandfathered in and exempted from the rate change from 10 years to 20 years. Homeowners with working solar panels as of Jan. 1, 2023 would qualify for the exemption.

The bill has received stiff opposition from the solar industry in Florida, with many companies and advocates arguing it would severely hurt the industry.

“It will kill a lot of jobs here in Florida,” said Matthew Chentnik, owner of Independent Green Technologies, a Tallahassee-based solar contracting company. “It’s a hypocritical slap in the face to rooftop solar.”

Other opponents noted that FPL last year received approval for a $4.9 billion rate increase over the next four years, and didn’t cite costs stemming from solar customers as a reason for the hike.

Nevertheless, the measure passed on a 13-3 vote after a contentious discussion, during which Chair Brad Drake, a Eucheeanna Republican, limited debate and eventually cut off some members of the public who sought to speak. He later relented and made exceptions for a handful of people who spoke in opposition to the measure who drove to Tallahassee from Miami.

The bill has two more committee hearings in the House before it can head to the floor, and the Senate version (SB 1024) has two more committee hurdles as well.

Gray Rohrer


14 comments

  • Bill K

    February 4, 2022 at 11:59 am

    It’s all about the money. Solar increases property value and helps save earth, but none of that matters to people like FPL and Duke Energy! If these power companies were smart, they would get into the solar game themselves. It’s clearly the future. They can be part of the solution or part of the problem. Looks to me like they are choosing to be part of the problem.

  • Kitty B

    February 5, 2022 at 10:52 am

    FPL has been fighting solar a long time. I wrote a paper 35 years ago for a resources geography class. I noted that Northern states had more solar power than Florida and set out to find out why. Everyone had solar hot water in Miami before WW II. When FPL came in after they offered a free electric water heater to anyone who signed up with them. So now everyone pays for what used to be free. It makes no sense for the wallet or the environment. Hello, global warming.

  • Gary A Miller

    February 6, 2022 at 11:40 am

    Florida politics wreak special interest groups and self-enriching politicians.

    They espoused freedom of choice and NO mandates but then backdoors legislation that is against both.

    They may as well include mandatory masks and vaccination so the electric companies employee don’t get sick.

    Politicians are always transparently two-faced.

    We can only hope batteries and Hydrogen generators become cheap enough to cut the grid out of the picture totally.

  • JJ

    February 7, 2022 at 12:29 pm

    Starbucks should pay me retail rate for any extra coffee in my coffee pot every day also……….

    It is not fair for the non-solar customers to pay retail rates for excess solar from a home. These cost don’t impact the electric companies. They just pass it through to the consumers.

    If you don’t want to pay your portion of the transmission system, distribution system, staffing, meter and transformer at your house then you can disconnect and not pay.

    • Louie Ciavaglia

      February 8, 2022 at 3:59 pm

      if it was that simple trust me i would You can not disconect from the grid after a meter has been placed on your home or you become a enemy of the state. I choose not to have a electric bill and to be paid for the amount of overage i produce. I produce much more than i use and they should have to pay me for it at a fair rate not 3 cents a KW

    • Gary A Miller

      February 9, 2022 at 9:31 am

      I am sorry I do not get what you are saying.
      “It is not fair for the non-solar customers to pay retail rates for excess solar from a home”

      So my neighbor has NO solar but I do. My electric company gives me $.02 per kilowatt instead of the the retail rate of $.11 for my excess KW. So my neighbor should receive KWs at $.02?

  • Gary A Miller

    February 7, 2022 at 1:12 pm

    I am sorry I do not get what you are saying.
    “It is not fair for the non-solar customers to pay retail rates for excess solar from a home”

    So my neighbor has NO solar but I do. My electric company gives me $.02 per kilowatt instead of the the retail rate of $.11 for my excess KW. So my neighbor should receive KWs at $.02?

    • Eugene Watkins

      February 11, 2022 at 9:37 am

      I have Solar at my house. I agree any excess I have at the end of a 1 year period I should be paid at whole sale rates. Excess power I pull back to power my house should be credited Kilowatt for Kilowatt. Example: If I send 10 kilowatts to the grid during the day and I pull back 10 kilowatts during the night then that should be an even exchange of kilowatts with no exchange of money. The bills are not clear on this. Will they only give you back a lower percentage credit for the kilowatts you pull back into your house? I wish someone could clear this up for me.

      • Gary A Miller

        February 11, 2022 at 9:46 am

        I see that as equitable what I over produce I get back at night.
        But politics works for the people/business that give them the most money. They stopped working for the people who vote them in 30 years ago.

        How I see it is they are forcing us to get batteries or a hydrogen fuel cell.

        At this point I cannot afford it so they pay me 2 cents per kilowatt.

  • Louie Ciavaglia

    February 8, 2022 at 3:54 pm

    Its a real shame that I make a HUGE investment in my property become a class 2 power plant am required to carry a 1000000 dollar rider on my home in case i damage their power grid but I am not allowed to at least break even. Its not my problem that my neighbors dont want to put solar on their homes thats their choice and they should pay for their decisions When did the republicans that run the state of florida become socialist take from me to give to someone else its BS if you ask me

  • Achim Ginsberg-Klemmt

    February 8, 2022 at 6:20 pm

    Lowering electricity bills and saving greenhouse gas emissions by installing PV modules seems like a desirable objective to most of us, but generating home-made electricity inevitably challenges the dominant players of the historically grown electricity market.

    For many decades, government regulations have favored and entitled investor-owned utility corporations with guaranteed revenue and a monopolistic, all expenses paid business model. The electricity market in the US is essentially a planned economy immune to competition and run by appointed Utility Commissions. Healthy market mechanisms which would level the playing field between the unequal participants are virtually non-existent.

    Some economists have described the existing monolithic market structure as a “natural monopoly”. In the past, there was some truth to the term “natural”, since electricity was generated by a few large power stations and consumed by businesses and residences around the country. Electricity generation, electricity distribution and billing had to be in the hands of one institution due to the available technologies.

    New electronic technologies were developed during the past 20 years which enabled decentralized electric power generation, emancipating and enabling former consumers to become prosumers who consume and produce electricity.

    For the last 4 decades, allowing the electric meter to run backwards to compensate for the production of home-made electricity was widely accepted as “Net Energy Metering (NEM)” and viewed as a just compensation for the higher ecological value of renewable solar energy produced without greenhouse gas emissions.

    Photovoltaic systems used to be very expensive, and only very few pioneers were able to afford distributed PV systems, so this technology never threatened the established business model of one large corporation being in charge of electric power generation, distribution and billing all under one corporate roof, with dedicated, competition free “service areas”.

    If the market for gasoline would have exclusive “service territories” for Texaco, Chevron and Exxon, one could imagine the outrage this would cause among local economists. It is therefore bewildering that the electricity market does not need to play by the same economical doctrines based on supply, demand and competition among equal players as any other markets. There is no longer any economic grounds for electricity generation, distribution and billing to be in the hands of one corporate entity. The technical constraints which once existed to justify a monopolistic market structure are now remnants of the past.

    Besides a few exceptions, the monolithic market structures of “Grandpa’s Electric Grid” have not evolved with the emerging PV technologies. With the years, the technologies for distributed PV installations have become more and more competitive and the Corporate Utilities have now woken up to see the threat to their established entitlements. Seeing more and more former consumers turn into prosumers has set the corporate utilities on high alert and motivated them to run deceptive political campaigns against the just compensation rates for home-made renewable energy. California is currently debating a punitive tax per installed KW of PV panels and a lower compensation rate for generated solar energy, which would be equal to the avoided fuel cost. (NEM 3.0). Florida Power & Light initiated the introduction of the Bills HB 1024 & HB 714 which would essentially remove the just compensation rate for renewable energy generation and replace this rate with a rate based on the fuel cost avoided by the corporate utilities.

    The core of this conflict surrounds a deceptive narrative which derides just compensation rates for renewable energy produced by distributed prosumers as a “cross-subsidy”. The Utilities argue that consumers without renewable production capability would need to shoulder increasing costs of upgrading and operating the electric grid infrastructure.

    This deceptive narrative fails for several reasons:

    Distributed PV systems without backup batteries typically operate with approximately 40% self-consumption rate. Additional backup battery capacity allows distributed PV systems to operate with up to 100% self-consumption rate without causing additional load to the electricity grid. This inevitably leads to the conclusion that ratepayers without PV systems would save money with the increased deployment of distributed PV installations instead of losing money, because distributed PV systems help to avoid costs to upgrade the electric grid.
    Electric Utilities are entitled to fully offset the costs associated with the construction of their power plants with “capacity charges” automatically paid by the ratepayers. Distributed PV system owners cannot charge other ratepayers for all their expenses related to the installation of their PV systems.
    Real-Estate costs related to PV installations need to be paid by the homeowners or businesses who install distributed PV systems, while utilities can charge the ratepayers for real-estate purchases associated with solar farms and end up as owners of the lands they purchase with the ratepayer’s money.
    Utility scale solar farms have other additional cost associated: Whether large swaths of lands are converted from former farm lands used for agriculture or those utility scale solar farms are placed into the formerly untouched nature onto publicly owned lands, the potential destruction of habitat for flora and fauna is an important factor which should be associated with a final price that needs to be paid for carbon neutral electricity generation.
    Many Utility Scale solar farms in Florida are built on land which is zoned for agricultural use, even though the utilities do not grow any plants for commercial purposes. Residential PV installations are located on residential land which does not benefit from the subsidized property taxes associated with agricultural zoning. Utilities in Florida basically pay a subsidized property tax on only 30% of the actual land value of their solar farms.
    Corporate Utilities operate their electricity distribution business on publicly owned lands without having to pay a dime for the land use. These corporations owe the general public something in return for their exclusive privileges.

    Receiving a just compensation rate for the renewable electricity generated by distributed PV systems is the least we should expect and demand in return.

    • Gary A Miller

      February 9, 2022 at 9:42 am

      Very astute and I agree with your statements.
      I guess all the freedom and mandate Floridian tough talk is only for the businesses.
      This was well written but too long for a politician that has the attention span of a gnat if he cannot see his cut of the pie.

  • Joe Jaboney

    February 10, 2022 at 3:19 pm

    Maybe we could entice the Canadian truckers to come down and help us oppose these utility backed bills by grid locking Tallahassee and the bills sponsors’ towns until they capitulate!

  • Joe Jaboney

    February 10, 2022 at 3:21 pm

    Maybe we could entice the Canadian truckers to come down and help us oppose these utility backed bills by grid locking Tallahassee and the bills sponsors’ towns until they capitulate! Eh?

Comments are closed.


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