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Tuesday, 15 November 2016 18:50

Amendment 1 Defeated - What's Next?

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Amendment 1 Defeated - What's Next? Unknown

Enough people were educated about Amendment 1 and what its true function was - laying the groundwork to thwart the adoption of rooftop solar - that it failed to pass. That a well-funded, professionally designed and marketed action by the corporate electric utilities was stopped by a grassroots effort is a ray of sunshine in an otherwise horrific national election outcome.

Publicly traded electric utilities will continue to do everything they can to thwart the adoption of rooftop solar.   The industry is relying heavily on the same tactic used by Donald Trump: divide and conquer.  Instead of using ethnicity or religion to place blame, the utility industry is trying to pit people who get rooftop solar panels against those that don't.  They contend that people with rooftop solar shift costs to people without solar panels.  This is a fabrication.  It depends on how you calculate costs and benefits. A full and fair accounting of the value of solar shows it to be a net benefit to all consumers.  Studies by utility commissions, government agencies and non-profits have shown this.  This report by the Brookings Institution summarizes some findings. The November 10th cleanenergy blog post Scapegoating Rooftop Solar lays out the propaganda strategy utility front groups will be using to try and curtail rooftop solar.

As the war on rooftop solar continues, keep in mind the following.  

The system of rules and rate design for electricity is outdated, having been designed when the only feasible way to generate electricity was from large fossil fuel plants and then deliver it long distance.  The whole system is inadequate and new systems thinking needs to replace it.  From a progressive standpoint, the benefits of a new system should accrue to consumers and communities, not to for-profit corporations.  

The energy industry is massively profitable because it rife with subsidies and tax loopholes.  Publicly traded electric utilities deliver high dividends to stockholders.  Utility executives often receive stock as part of their compensation packages and own tens or hundreds of thousands of shares.  In fact, CEOs of 3 publicly traded electric utilities in Florida each received over $10 million in total compensation in 2015. They were among the 15 highest paid utility executives that year. Journalist David Cay Johnston wrote a chapter about electric utilities in one of his excellent books, The Fine Print, and it explains some aspects of why the energy industry is so profitable.  This industry is a big contributor to the growing inequality in our society, at the expense of investing in a renewable energy future.

It's well known that the Florida legislature is captive to the lobbyists of the electric utilities. Some of those handsome corporate profits go towards funding politicians, making sure no legislation gets passed that would encourage energy efficiency or more rooftop solar.

Climate change is only dealt with by the energy industry in terms of what it is forced to do by law or regulation to regulate emissions.  Recognition that it is a crisis that must be addressed rapidly is non-existent.

Fortunately, rooftop solar is not going away and there are grassroots efforts to expand its use, like the solar cooperatives that are forming.  We must continue to let our legislators and regulators at the Public Service Commission know that we want an electricity grid built with technology of the future, not technology of the past.

Last modified on Monday, 04 November 2019 21:06
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