Florida voters have rejected a utility-funded ballot measure that would have opened the door for changes to the system of credit earned by homeowners who install solar panels and produce surplus energy.
Currently, solar owners who send extra power back into the energy grid earn credit that can offset the price of any energy they might use, in what is known as "net metering.''
Such homeowners might produce all of their own power - and then some - uring sunny periods.
They might draw electricity during cloudy periods but will have no net cost if it was offset by power they previously had made available to other users.
Utility companies argue that solar homeowners unfairly take advantage of infrastructure costs paid by other customers, and Amendment 1 would have allowed them to make changes to the state's net metering system.
Of the four amendments up for a vote in the general election, it’s been the one that has garnered the most controversy.
The language of Amendment 1 was one of the controversial aspects. Here's how it reads:
“This amendment establishes a right under Florida's constitution for consumers to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use. State and local governments shall retain their abilities to protect consumer rights and public health, safety and welfare, and to ensure that consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do.”
Supporters of the amendment have said it would guarantee the right of all residents to produce their own solar energy as well as protect those who don’t use solar energy from being charged for that choice.
Opponents say the measure, which has been backed by utility and power companies with over $21 million in contributions, would allow those companies to control how solar energy is produced and raise prices for those who do choose solar energy. They say it’s not needed since the right given to homeowners is already granted.
With nearly every state newspaper and media outlet opposing the amendment, it will need at least 60 percent to vote in favor in order for it to pass.