Net metering bill gets compromise amendment, heads to final Senate panel

solar tax breaks
While some critics were thankful for concessions, it didn't assuage the concerns of others.

Legislation backed by Florida Power & Light (FPL) that would raise energy rates on rooftop solar panel customers passed its penultimate Senate committee on Tuesday.

Under current law, solar panel owners who have excess energy generated by the panels can sell it back to utilities at the retail rate the utilities charge other customers. That practice is known as net metering.

The bill (SB 1024), carried by Fleming Island Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley, would require a cheaper wholesale price be charged to the utilities.

The bill’s proponents 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. They also argue the solar industry is growing enough to start scaling back the incentives for customers to go solar.

Before a 6-3 party-line vote in the Senate Community Affairs Committee, Bradley told the committee Florida knows where it’s headed because other states are already grappling with problems with the existing net metering system.

“We have the opportunity to do something that we don’t normally get to do in Tallahassee, and that is look down the pike, see a big problem coming and have the opportunity to address it before it becomes such a mountain to move that you can’t get to a solution,” Bradley said.

The measure came under additional scrutiny in December after the Miami Herald and Floodlight reported that FPL drafted and encouraged state lawmakers to file legislation constricting the state’s growing rooftop solar industry, one in a series of news stories tracking claims of FPL’s involvement in the political process.

Senators approved changes to Bradley’s bill, creating a step-down process to gradually drop what energy companies owe solar owners until 2028. The amendment also extended the grandfathering period within the bill from 10 years to 20 years. Homeowners with working solar panels as of Jan. 1, 2023, would qualify for the exemption.

But while some critics thanked Bradley for the concession, it didn’t assuage the concerns of others.

“I know that this legislation is intended to kill Florida’s private solar industry and protect the monopoly of electric utilities,” said Emily Chentnik, the daughter of the owner of Tallahassee-based solar contracting company Independent Green Technologies. “That is all that is intended to do, and I am not fooled by this.”

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 nonsolar owners.

Lighthouse Point Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer told the committee he would like to wait for more information about the industry’s pace of growth and the cost to consumers.

“It has just irked me, for the longest time, that the Sunshine State lags so far behind in solar energy,” Farmer said. “There’s just something ironically wrong with that.”

Bradley’s bill next heads to the Senate Rules Committee. The House version (HB 741), carried by Dover Republican Rep. Lawrence McClure, passed its first of three panels earlier this month.

___

Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics contributed to this report.

Last updated on February 8, 2022

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


8 comments

  • politics

    February 9, 2022 at 9:33 am

    Well yea you all did not think you were getting away cheap. In Florida it is a question on weather they can keep the roof in a storm.I guess we will all find out and how many get hit with the panels

  • politics

    February 9, 2022 at 9:40 am

    Solar has to be individual with self made roof tops kind of like the cars.they are called smart homes.roofs are welded in

  • Teddy Hazy

    February 9, 2022 at 3:11 pm

    Really wish this headline didn’t characterize this as a “compromise” when it only impacts people who have already invested in solar. It does nothing to reduce the job killing measures of this rule change or allow people who want to invest in solar in the future to do so.

    It’s like being told you are losing your job but they won’t sue you for wages paid in the past. How generous.

    Also, it’s 90,000 existing customers, not 19,000.

    • Simon Rowell

      February 12, 2022 at 1:34 pm

      Spot on – just allowing existing installations to continue does nothing to help the ongoing growth of the solar installation industry. I assume that FPL is paying these politicians something for their votes, because otherwise there’s no reason to object to home solar.

      Also, I may add that, as usual, “net metering” is presented falsely. It is not a mechanism for homeowners to sell electricity to the utilities. At least for LCEC in SW Florida, any generated power is not reimbursed at retail rates. Net metering allows the meter to go up and down based on usage. If you’re generating more than the house consumes, the meter goes backwards and when you’re consuming more, the meter goes forward as normal. Only at the end of the year is there a reckoning where you see how much extra power you’ve generated. Last year, I got a check for $1 (99 cents actually) because my system is sized surprisingly accurately for my use. But LCEC pays me 3 cents per kWh but sells the excess power I generate at 8 cents per kWh. I am subsidizing LCEC!

      With all this talk of freedom these days, having totalitarian utility companies taking away my choice to be environmentally conscious is an outrage,

  • Mabel Allen

    February 12, 2022 at 2:56 am

    I’m having issues with Duke Energy stealing my solar. Last month i had 2700 net metered KWH. This month i had to pay for 29 KWH when it should of come out of the 2700. Then I find i no longer have those net metered KWH . Numbers are not adding up and it looks like im being ripped off for Kwh other then that as well. Then they go and more then triple the storage bill. Any one else out there with this kind of problem? Im thinking of a law suit….

  • Dave Stites

    February 14, 2022 at 4:40 pm

    End of Year Energy Credit kWhrs on your January bill in the December is converted to dollars on your Feb bill at 3.665-Cents/kWhr, Duke’s “Cost of Generation” or COG-1 rate.
    The credit is then reset to zero and any month to month excess rolls over until used or credited as $s at the end of each year.
    Your 2,700 kWhrs should show as a credit of $98.96, less any charges on your Jan bill: Customer Charge, usage or min-bill add-on to $30 plus utility taxes & fees.

  • Mabel Allen

    February 15, 2022 at 11:15 am

    Thank you for your response. I wish that that was the case but it doesn’t appear to be. There is absolutely no mention on my January bill of any credit or any kilowatt hours. I was actually charged for power that was not generated by the Solar for that month. When I received the bill it said I went over by 29 kWh and I was charged for that bringing my bill to $30 instead of the $11 I was paying. Also on the same bill stating that it would be $35 next month. Absolutely nothing about the missing kilowatt hours. It appears I was lied to when they sold me the solar system. I was told those credits would remain there for when I needed to use them. It even says that on the contract that I signed. That the kilowatt hours would remain the customers property. It says nothing of purchasing them at the end of the year. I also believe that they over estimated how many solar panels I actually needed. Duke energy is Carolina Connections, the company I purchased the system from. I rarely use over 400 kWh a month but my system created over 11,000 in the year that it’s been in operation as of February 1. This really does seem to be a scam from Duke Energy. I am paying $33,000 for solar panels that create twice as much power than I need and I’m not being credited for the excess on some months. As well as all of the credits being missing come January. All I know is all those kilowatt hours are missing, I was not credited for them, they charged me for January‘s power and that they sold me way more solar panels than I apparently needed. I produced more than twice what I used. Is this their way of scamming us? They sell those stolen kilowatt hours at their current rate while giving the person that generated them nothing. It doesn’t seem fair that they should be able to collect excess Power created by the solar panels that they sold me and that produce twice as much more than I need.

  • Mabel Allen

    February 15, 2022 at 11:42 am

    Well what should be and what is are two different things. There is no credit, I was charged for January and the credits are all missing. End of December I had 2700. January had zero with no credit and charged for 29 kWh. Nothing expected for February except for a $35 bill. I see nowhere mentioned of them purchasing anything. If this happened to you what steps would you take? It’s actually well over 2700. Several months that they did not add in any of the excess kilowatt hours. Duke energys Carolina Connections also estimated twice as many panels then I actually needed. I’d be OK with this whole thing if they actually did pay the almost $100 for those kilowatt hours. That at least would pay for a couple of the months of ridiculous storage prices.

Comments are closed.


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