House proposes step-down for solar net metering as bill heads to floor

solar tax breaks
'I feel very good that rooftop solar in the state of Florida will be here to stay and continue to prosper.'

Rep. Lawrence McClure has made good on his promise to create a step-down process to end net metering in Florida. But critics argue the bill still would be devastating to the rooftop solar industry.

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 their utility charges other customers, a process known as net metering. The bill (HB 741), carried by Dover Republican Rep. Lawrence McClure and as passed Monday by the House Commerce Committee, would eventually require a cheaper wholesale price be charged to the utilities, similar to changes Fleming Island Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley made to her version (SB 1024) earlier this month.

The original legislation would have immediately scrapped net metering and instead would have asked homeowners to sell the electricity at the rate it would charge the utility company to procure the electricity from its usual sources, zeroing out costs for the utility company. Rooftop solar owners, environmental advocates and solar panel installers argue eliminating net metering before rooftop solar is well established could kill the growing business.

After passing the Commerce Committee mostly along party lines, House lawmakers are now ready to consider the proposal on the floor. However, the Senate bill awaits its final hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.

McClure told the committee he appreciated the stakeholders who have worked with him to strike a balance in the bill since its first committee stop, when he promised a substantive change to the legislation.

“I feel very good that rooftop solar in the state of Florida will be here to stay and continue to prosper,” McClure said.

The House bill would begin kicking in at the start of 2023, when panel owners would start getting 75% credit. That would fall to 60% in 2026 and 50% in 2027, and then drop to the market rate in 2029.

That pace varies from the Senate version, which starts at 75% in 2024 before going to 50% in 2026 and dropping to the market rate in 2028.

Both versions would also grandfather in solar panel owners for 20 years.

However, even with the “glide path,” members of the public who testified on the bill overwhelmingly said the bill would kill the industry. Ultimately, the proposal would raise the energy bills of rooftop solar users and cramp the industry.

“If this bill passes, I’m going to have to experience layoffs, the likes of which I’ve never seen in my 17-year career in this industry,” said Nathan Traynor of Castaways Energy.

Aventura Democratic Rep. Joseph Geller called the compromise amendment an improvement and voted “yes,” but he still supported alternatives, including directly subsidizing the solar industry.

“Let’s have it be paid by all the people in this state, particularly the ones who can afford it, not put this on the backs of poor people who have enough problems putting food on the table and paying the bills as it is without having to have them pay to subsidize solar.”

A survey released last week by Mason-Dixon showed 84% of Florida voters support net metering.

The legislation 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.

On Monday, when McClure’s bill passed its second committee stop, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried also issued her opposition to the bill in a statement ahead of the meeting.

“This bill would effectively pull the plug on the competitive solar market in our state and the 40,000 jobs it supports. It’s bad for consumers, bad for the environment and bad for our economy,” Fried said. “In the Sunshine State, we should be doing everything we can to support the solar industry, not handicapping it with bad bills like this.”

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.


6 comments

  • Michele Drucker

    February 24, 2022 at 7:42 pm

    Subsidy claim is nonsense.
    The solar subsidy argument is nonsense. $.10 – $.20 cents on an electric bill is negligible. Residential solar subsidizes Florida’s economy with $18 billion or $1,600 per Floridian. So, instead of trying to cast solar owners as freeloaders, they deserve our thanks for pumping so much money into Florida’s economy and helping support high-paying jobs.

    Also, can we please acknowledge that the math doesn’t add up? Unless we now have 1 billion Florida households, .10 cents on an electric bill does not add up to $100 million, as claimed by FPL. We have 7.5 million homes in Florida.
    Actual Subsidy is on dirty, unstable gas and coal.
    So why is this bill being pushed now when there is so little solar and no evidence that it is hurting the grid or customers. Follow the money.
    This summer, FPL secured an $811 million rate increase because 70% of their fuel mix is dirty and unstable coal and gas. So when there is a pandemic, supply chain issue, or Russia invades Ukraine, these costs go up. But the sun comes up every day and doesn’t depend on geopolitics. Do you want Florida to be powered with clean, stable, non-polluting energy produced here in Florida or volatile dirty fuel that helps prop up terrible governments like Venezuela, Iran, and Russia?

    This rate increase also came at a time when Florida’s biggest school district and most populated county committed to clean energy because our community and students want clean energy. They see the urgency to cut carbon pollution that is poisoning our air and acidifying our oceans. So when energy bills spike, the incentive to accelerate solar installation will increase.

    Let me repeat that. The Real Subsidy is on dirty, unstable gas and coal. FPL will increase rates 21% on its 5.6 million customers. Based on the average bill, that’s more than $1,700 a year per household. FPL’s territory covers more than 1.2 million students and their schools; schools that spend $500 million on electricity in Florida cannot afford such a steep increase on their already strapped budgets.
    This bill boxes FPL customers, including schools and public institutions, into a 21% rate increase. We all pay to keep the lights on in schools.
    So if you are still not persuaded to stop this bill because it will harm good-paying jobs and the claims about why we need it don’t make sense, we must carve out an exception for schools with no restrictions. Our students want clean energy. Energy is the biggest expense to schools after teacher salaries. Solar installation on schools can demonstrate clean energy career pathways for students and help schools with their big rooftops and daytime energy needs soften the blow from the coming increase on their electric bill. FPL should not be getting a 21% raise; our teachers should.

  • Tim Scoff

    February 25, 2022 at 8:38 am

    I am very interested in knowing how the proposed law will affect people like me who generate less electricity than we use over the course of a 24 hour period, but generate more electricity than we use during daylight hours.

    Is the proposed law going to mean that people like me will be required to sell the power that we generate to our electric company at wholesale rates during the day and then buy that same electricity back at retail rates at night when our solar panels are not generating electricity? Or is that proposed law only going to affect people who have solar arrays that are large enough that they generate more electricity than they generate?

    I am Ok with the law if it is written in such a way that there is no effect on people like me who generate less electricity than we consume and only affects people who turn their roofs into power plants where they sell their excess electricity back to the electric company. I am opposed to the law if it is written in such a way that every single person with solar panels will be selling solar panel to the electric company during the day at wholesale rates and buying it back at retail rates at night.

    One scenario will affect very few people. The other scenario will hurt almost every solar customer a great deal. The devil is in the details and, since Florida Power and Light is lobbying so hard for this bill I strongly suspect that the bill is written so that people like me will be paying more for our electricity under this bill, even though we’re generating less power than we consume.

    • Mark Scholes

      February 25, 2022 at 2:55 pm

      You’re correct in your assumption. You will get paid wholesale rates for over production and be charged full tariffs for anything you get from the grid. It looks like they have added a 20 grandfather clause so it would impact any existing solar customers for 20 years.

    • Carl Antonik

      February 27, 2022 at 9:42 pm

      I’m with you Tim, I’ve been trying to find a layman explanation of the bill. From how I read it, looks like they are trying to push this on a monthly basis crediting your next billing cycle first starting out at 75% in 2024-2025, then 60% in 2026, and finally only 50% by 2027-2028. this is totally going to jack up my electric bill. my investment was to reduce my electric bill to 0, and be producing clean solar energy. Now instead of being able to use those full credits in the next month they will be only giving me 75%, then 60%, and eventually 50%. over the course of a year I produce about 95% of what I use, now i’m going to be back to paying an electric bill and solar panels.

  • Rob Wolf

    March 3, 2022 at 6:58 am

    I literally got solar installed 2 weeks ago and I’m waiting for Duke to come out and exchange my meter. Hmmm, I wonder if I’m even going to get the correct meter. I can only hope that I’m grandfathered in, but I would never have installed solar if I knew this was coming.
    I heard another reason this is becoming a topic is because the wind solar companies aren’t making as much money now that solar is tapping into their profits.
    I guess Florida is becoming a state like all the others. Screw the homeowner and take care of the big businesses.

  • Steve F Barnhardt

    March 3, 2022 at 4:40 pm

    Bill passed today I do believe. Yep screwed by FPL and their lobbyists again.

Comments are closed.


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