Lawmakers approve path to end net metering for solar energy
Let the sunshine: Rooftop solar is popular with Floridians.

Solar panels on rooftops in California
Critics argue lawmakers are charging ahead unprepared with a measure the voters don't want.

The Legislature has passed a bill to set a timeline to end net metering in Florida, a move critics argue would be devastating to the rooftop solar industry.

The measure (HB 741) aims to end subsidies its sponsors said would overburden nonsolar customers through a process known as net metering. Under net metering, Florida’s electric utilities are mandated to buy back at the retail rate “banked” energy stored by homes that gather more energy than they produce. That energy is added to the utility’s grid and can be redistributed to nonsolar customers.

Dover Republican Rep. Lawrence McClure filed the House bill, and Fleming Island Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley carried it through the Senate. The Senate approved the legislation 24-15 on Monday, after the House passed it 83-31 on Wednesday.

The Legislature established the current system in 2008 to subsidize the nascent solar industry.

“This bill is fair,” Bradley told senators. “It’s a thoughtful glide path to get us to a no subsidy.”

But critics argued more information was needed on the change’s possible impacts before moving forward with the legislation.

The 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.

The measure also would grandfather in solar panel owners and lessees, allowing them to maintain their entry credit rate for 20 years.

Without the subsidy, energy bills could increase for solar generators.

Lantana Democratic Sen. Lori Berman said voters indicated their support for subsidizing the rooftop solar industry in 2016, when they shot down a proposed constitutional amendment allowing residents who don’t produce solar energy to abstain from subsidizing it. Like many critics throughout the Session, Berman pointed to Nevada, where the state immediately scrapped net metering in 2015.

“Two years later, their Legislature had to come back and change it because the whole solar industry left Nevada during that time,” Berman said. “I don’t want to see that happen here in our state.”

Despite voting “yes,” New Smyrna Beach Republican Sen. Tom Wright said he was having a hard time casting that vote. He wished the state’s utility commission had been involved in the research assessing whether there was even a need to change the solar industry’s structure.

However, it was a bridge too far for St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes. Without a study, he said, lawmakers could be destroying the solar industry instead of tailoring the end of subsidies.

“What needs a scalpel, we don’t have. We only have a sledgehammer, and doing surgery with a sledgehammer is incredibly messy,” Brandes said.

A recent study from advocacy group Conservatives for Clean Energy shows the solar industry adds 40,000 jobs, $18.3 billion in economic impact and $3.2 billion in household income for its workforce. That study also showed solar adds $10.6 billion to the state’s gross domestic product.

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

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.

After the vote, Florida Conservation Voters Deputy Director Jonathan Webber criticized the lack of data behind the move. Additionally, he said it would increase the cost of installing rooftop solar panels at a time the cost of living is rising.

“Its passage is nothing less than legislative malpractice,” Webber said. “Florida’s families deserve better and the climate crisis demands better. Now it’s on the Governor to show he stands with families by vetoing this bad bill.”

The program is considered a pillar of Florida’s rooftop solar industry, according to advocates like Vote Solar’s Southeast Regional Director Katie Chiles Ottenweller.

“This is corporate welfare, plain and simple,” Ottenweller said. “When families and businesses reduce their energy consumption by going solar, monopoly utilities see a hit to their bottom line. The legislature has made the choice to prioritize corporations’ profit margins over the rights of Floridians to control their own energy use.”

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.


17 comments

  • Susan

    March 7, 2022 at 4:51 pm

    What is being called a “subsidy” is a buy back of power. Anyone who understands how this works realizes that FPL gets power in the deal that they did not have to produce. This should not cost those without solar any more than they already pay. Twenty year grandfathering is good for those who already have it, but will slow others from installing. Maybe that is why it passed.

    • Steve

      March 8, 2022 at 9:17 am

      Yeah, government is getting overtly corrupt these days. This is just plain corruption, and nothing else. There is no “subsidy.” Solar panels produces the most power during the hottest times of the day, when power usage in Florida peaks (ACs are all on). Power companies have to activate “peaker plants,” which are less efficient, in order to meet this extra demand. Solar kicking in during this peak time lowers the peak demand on the grid which means fewer peaker plants needed and lower cost. But FPL is a monopoly and is guaranteed a return on any investment, so they actually like wasting money on peaker plants and other infrastructure. Because rooftop solar power is being produced right where it is needed, for you and your neighbors, the transmission infrustructure is much lower than power produced miles away at a plant. There is also less power loss due to long transmission lines. If my neighbor’s panel produces an extra 1 kW of power, FPL gets to charge me for that full 1kW of power that ends up going into my house. If they produce 1kW by burning natural gas, they have to push it through miles of power lines and some of that energy is lost and they only get to charge me for a fraction of that. The energy produced by solar is MORE valuable to FPL than what they charge per kwh, because it is produced where it is needed AND it is produced during peak times when energy is in more demand and is more expensive to produce. FPL just wants a monopoly on power production and this bill will cause fewer people to put solar on their roof. Instead, FPL will clear more natural land and install more of its own solar panels in fields. It is clearly better for everyone for us to just put solar on rooftops, which is already wasted space. Solar panels shade your house and decrease the energy needs of your house, in addition to actually providing energy. Do we really think its better to have centralized control over power production that requires more land use? Not to mention, renewables, like solar, are sorely needed today to weaken the US’s oil-price-dependent enemies like Russia and Iran. Less demand for natural gas and oil lowers global price, which hurts those countries. Even if you don’t care about the environment or don’t believe climate experts, you have to admit, there are security reasons to do everything we can to boost solar and EVs.

      • Steve

        March 8, 2022 at 9:25 am

        edit: “1kW” should read “1kWh”

        Another point. People with TOU energy rates understand that during peak times, energy is worth more, than off-peak times. FPL does have a time-of-use plan that you can sign up for, but most pay a flat rate. FPL still pays varying rates, but the flat rate makes things easier for customers. So when I generate 1kWh of energy during peak hours with solar, I won’t need that 1kWh back until the sun goes down, which is off-peak time. So even though “net” metering gives you one kWh for each kWh you produce, generally you are trading a “peak” kWh for an “off-peak” kWh, so you are NOT really getting back what you gave them. You gave them a more expensive peak kWh and are getting back a cheaper off-peak kWh.

      • Hal P

        March 8, 2022 at 11:50 am

        Politicians sold out Florida citizens for small campaign bribes.

      • Chris

        March 8, 2022 at 2:50 pm

        You make some interesting assumptions there. The real issue is with grid maintenance and production capacity.
        Every solar panel on a roof that is grid tied is essentially competition for the utility. every kwh metered in is a kwh they don’t get to sell. This impacts their finances and their “customer base” shrinks while they need to maintain the same infrastructure with increasing costs.
        I completely disagree with the way they are doing this.
        I think they should calculate the costs for grid maintenance etc. separately and every consumer should be charged according to their KWH usage of the grid. Then electric customers can also pay for their power usage. They also need to make it Illegal for any municipality to force people to be connected to the grid. people should be able to go full solar battery and disconnect from the grid to avoid any costs paid to utilities if they want… That’s what I would do.
        Net metering in it’s current form WAS a subsidy to solar.
        The pendulum has swung the exact opposite way and now we are back to a Monopoly extorting people.

      • Jim Matthews

        March 11, 2022 at 9:17 pm

        Well, er , actually… the facts brought out by the dudes & dudettes sitting closest to the front podium indicated Kaleefornyakashunlandia is now ‘subsidizing’ their 15% Solar Power by $15 BN annually.
        Florida is approaching just 1% ‘residential rooftop’ Solar… current will be protected for 20 years on current rates. FPL et al have to keep power generation for nitetime generation, so we don’t yet know how much relief they get from daytime solar!
        Simple Solution #142: Provide each current Nuke Power Plant operator with $10 BN construction loan to build out the 36 Nuke Power Plant GW Bush licensed with promise to allow operation IF built. Kinda like TARP’s $300 BN loan to banks that got paid back WITH INTEREST that solve the world’s world banking fiasco of GOVT buying home loans…
        FPL / Duke / Exelon / Entery / TVA would build the capacity most sites were originally tasked with most efficient model in the world in 5 years = we got reprocessed Soviet Nuke Warhead “U” to power them for 2 generations of CLEAN GREEN 24/7/365 !!

  • Eugene Watkins

    March 7, 2022 at 7:50 pm

    Non solar customers do not subsidize solar customers anymore than they subsidize electric customers who use natural gas or firewood to heat their house. All these methods reduce how much electricity a home uses. Florida Power and Light just doesn’t like net metering.

    • Jim Matthews

      March 11, 2022 at 9:28 pm

      You are correctimongo IF you also believe the 43% of US Workers actually paying FIT aren’t ‘subsidizing the 57% who now pay ZERO / ZIP / NADA / ZILCH – and half of those also get ‘back’ up to $10,000 in ‘refundable tax credits.
      You understand each Solar Install gets ‘massive’ tax credits that redistribute tax burdens to those the GOVT decided were not winners but rather made them losers??
      Makes as much ‘cents’ as the SS & Medicare Annual Report not including the Actuarial Section… albeit the only reason for doing that Annual Report = last estimated as adding $130 BN Unfunded Liability to our $30 BN Nat’l Debt over next 50 years of pretending…??

  • Dave Stiites

    March 7, 2022 at 8:11 pm

    Since rooftop solar only has 0.5% to 1% penetration in Florida, it’s impact on non-solar customer’s bills amounts to half that, or a measly 0.25% to 0.5%.
    Huh? Why? Because solar customers only get back kWhrs of energy credits equal to what they produced in any given biling period.
    I.e. net-metering is really a 50:50 deal with utlity companies, and nothing more.
    Eccess energy credits at year-end (if any) are credited at COG-1 rates or 3.7-Cents/kWhr, at least on my Duke net-metering bill.
    Everyone (solar and non-solar) pays the same monthly customer charge, at least before the Min-Bill of $30.00 was invoked in Jan 2022, shafting solar and non-solar customers alike with no or low monthly net billable kWhrs usage.
    Reality, 0.5% of an average $150 monthly bill for kWhrs usage only, amounts to just 75 CENTS, or $9.00/yr. Two Starburps Latte Grandes. Whoa boy!
    So, what’s all this anti-solar customer hatred bantered about by politicians in TallyHassel all about?
    Simple! Politicians multiplied the 75-CENTS by 9-million utility customers to get $6,750,000/month being “shoved onto non-solar customers”…and… “Times 12” to get $81-Million$/year and become a hero with a bill and headlines to “Save Everyone Million$” by ending net-metering.
    Truth is, they don’t hsve a clue what they’re really talking about. Sad, but typical…

  • tom palmer

    March 8, 2022 at 1:30 am

    The suits defeat the people once again in Tallahassee. Shocker. Would have responded earlier, but our power from an investor-owned utility was out.

  • Jacques Boyer

    March 8, 2022 at 11:24 am

    65000 solar jobs in California would be at stake if net metering 3.0 had been passed in January. The people, solar companies and the governor rose up to delay passage. Every solar panel that goes up helps the local grid in that PGE needs to spend less on infrastructure while needing to procure less (however cheaper) electricity from far distance power plants. Therefore, the cost to maintain infrastructure goes down over time. All that’s needed is to split the cost of procuring electricity vs. maintaining the grid which all should pay for equally. Since rooftop solar reduces the cost of maintaining the grid, all would save.

  • Joe Jaboney

    March 8, 2022 at 1:29 pm

    Jennifer Bradley just keeps shilling for big business. While accepting campaign contributions from utilities to promote this anti- solar bill, she also backs HB 9 on behalf of META (GOOGLE) and numerous other data collection companies to preclude individuals from controlling their personal data. That woman couldn’t be further from a “people’s representative if she was hand picked by Putin!

  • Jason Isla

    March 9, 2022 at 1:26 am

    This is a horrible blow to solar, but a big push to the value of batteries. It seems the change was eventually going to happen, but the bill sets no customer protections or limits to charges. In a perfect world, system pricing will drop significantly in the next two years to cover the growing loss of net metering and the decreased ITC, but it is hard to believe.

    Widespread Correction… The article and others state that the 75% buyback rate will change for customers who install in January of 2023, next year. The text from the bill actually states January 2024. Was this changed? What am I missing?

    “2. Excess customer-owned or leased renewable generation delivered to the public utility’s electric grid during the customer’s regular billing cycle is credited to the customer’s energy consumption for the next month’s billing cycle as follows:
    a. For energy credits produced from customer-owned or leased renewable generation for which a net metering application is approved between January 1, 2024, and December 31, 2025, the customer’s energy usage is offset by 75 percent of the amount credited… For energy”

  • Kevin

    March 10, 2022 at 12:16 pm

    84% of voting Floridians stand behind rooftop solar systems. I hope they remember this bill if it passes on election day.

    • Jim Matthews

      March 11, 2022 at 9:22 pm

      A friend usually inspecting Canadian Nuke Power Plants had to stay in US , did Diablo Canyon Nuke that Kaleefornyskashunlandia SHALL close down in 2 years… producing 8% of that states current electrical generation.
      It be 15 years newer than FPL’s and is the cream of the crop my friend says in every way!

  • Keith Klipstein

    March 11, 2022 at 11:23 pm

    I think the drop in price for batteries is coming on just in time. I see one response to this will be to load up on battery storage, sufficient so you don’t draw grid power, but you only pay the utility’s fixed monthly meter charge for being your “island’s” backup. Get Wired up so your meter never “net meters” at all. The program triggers grid power only when there is NO power behind the meter which will then open a bypass circuit transferring in the Grid to keep the lights on, assuming it hadn’t already failed.

  • Teddy R.

    March 13, 2022 at 4:11 pm

    Florida Politicians are bought and paid for by special interests like the utility companies. Unfortunately, Florida voters are gullible enough to believe the GOP represents their interests vs.that of the corporate overlords who actually write the legislation.

Comments are closed.


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