Dawn Shirreffs: Net metering rewrite hurts small businesses, homeowners

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Solar customers already pay their share toward maintaining the grid through minimum monthly fees.

Florida families and small businesses deserve to recover costs on solar investments at the same rate as utilities.

Current net metering policy was designed to help reduce energy costs to all users and wean Florida from our over-reliance on fossil fuels by ensuring those who invest in solar for their homes and businesses are paid fairly for excess electricity they send to the grid.

Solar customers already pay their share toward maintaining the grid through minimum monthly fees. What’s more: utilities in Georgia, Arizona and elsewhere have repeatedly testified that servicing solar customers is less expensive than providing power to traditional customers.

Yet, proposed legislation SB 1024/HB 741 would allow utilities to charge new grid access fees and reduce the rate homeowners are paid – thereby creating new barriers to accessing solar for millions of Florida families and businesses while undermining growth of the solar industry that already supports 40,000 jobs in the Sunshine State.

Unfortunately, neither the utilities nor the Public Service Commission provided the cost data has been provided to lawmakers to justify this change. This important point was raised by Sen. Jason Brodeur in the last committee hearing.

What we do know for a fact is that energy demand is on the rise as temperatures rise. We also know that our state’s overreliance (75%) on natural gas for electricity is a very real threat to our energy security and economy. Lawmakers aiming to lower energy costs should be focused on energy efficiency reform, not mandating families and businesses sell their excess power at about 20% of the rate utilities charge their neighbors.

Until we reach solar adoption levels of at least 10%, it is not just premature but irresponsible to weaken Florida’s net metering policy.

Fair and accurate compensation is essential to protecting energy freedom for Florida residents and businesses. We can have neither under the “instantaneous use” proposal in SB 1024/HB 741 which would demand constant monitoring of thousands of daily inflow and outflow transactions instead of simple monthly statements that allow users to calculate their costs.

Ninety-four percent of Floridians agree climate change is real. Gov. Ron DeSantis has led on climate resilience, committing millions to safeguarding our communities from sea-level rise and expanding electric vehicles, yet this proposal would undermine that agenda of environmental responsibility and conservationism.

Floridians show overwhelming bipartisan support for expanding renewable energy in poll after poll. The current net metering policy is helping to increase the number of clean energy sources in Florida, create good jobs and benefits everyone.

Over the next four weeks, let’s hope Florida’s legislators investigate the facts, and take very seriously the impacts of proposed changes.

___

Dawn Shirreffs is the Florida Director of the Environmental Defense Fund. Dawn works to bring pragmatic nature-based and clean energy solutions to the toughest climate challenges that Florida faces.

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One comment

  • politics

    February 19, 2022 at 3:25 pm

    hark i will huff and puff and blow your panels down. look at all the clean jobs Florida will have 32 a hour.

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