The “net metering” bill headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk has drawn its first campaign blood, in a Democratic congressional Primary campaign.
The bill 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 through solar panels.
Most Democrats — plus a small handful of Republicans — opposed the bill as a setback for promotion of solar energy. They say it eliminates a prime incentive for people to invest in solar. Yet some Democrats — including Bracy — supported the bill. They cited economic equity concerns for lower-income residents who cannot afford solar panels yet must pay subsidy charges for those who can.
Frost, a progressive activist, and Bracy are both leading Democratic candidates in the race for Florida’s 10th Congressional District in western Orange County. The seat is opening because incumbent Democratic Rep. Val Demings is running for Senate. In the Legislature’s approved redistricting maps, CD 10 still would have a strong Democratic-leaning electorate.
Like many of those who opposed HB 741 in the Legislature, Frost characterized the bill as a regression in the state’s climate change response, contending that Bracy came down wrong.
Democratic Sens. Bobby Powell of West Palm Beach and Victor Torres of Orlando also voted “yes” on HB 741.
Bracy did not respond Monday or Tuesday to an inquiry about his vote.
“At a time when gas prices are at a record high and climate change threatens our way of life in Florida, it’s disappointing to see my Senator, Randolph Bracy, vote against the environment, consumers, and good-paying jobs,” Frost said in a news release issued Monday night by his congressional campaign.
Frost cited a recent study from the advocacy group Conservatives for Clean Energy which 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.
“We need to make major investments in renewable energy — and solar is an important part of that. Today, Sen. Bracy made clear that he stands with the fossil fuel industry and utility companies and against the people,” Frost added.
He went on to assail Bracy’s broader environmental record, charging that he “voted against the Sierra Club’s prioritized bills more than nearly every other Democratic Senator.”
Frost also criticized Bracy for receiving campaign donations from fossil fuel utility companies. Frost vowed he is refusing to take any money from fossil fuel and utility companies and their executives.