Purposefully misleading solar bill in Florida — for those who know people there or want to FYI

JustinAJustinA Registered Users Posts: 8
Florida Will Vote This Year On Measure That Would Block Solar Leasing In The State — Ballot Measure Designed to Fool People

Sponsored by utility companies and other groups tied to the Koch brothers, the measure will prevent people from selling their electricity to third parties. This would effectively prevent solar leasing in the state, because under that system, an owner — usually a solar company — installs panels at a home and then sells the generated electricity back to the homeowner. 

“This amendment hoodwinks voters by giving the impression that it will encourage the use of rooftop solar when, in fact, it would do the opposite,” Earthjustice attorney David Guest told the News Service of Florida.

In a scathing dissent, Justice Barbara J. Pariente warned Floridians about the measure's confusing language.

"Let the pro-solar energy consumers beware. Masquerading as a pro-solar energy initiative, this proposed constitutional amendment, supported by some of Florida’s major investor-owned electric utility companies, actually seeks to constitutionalize the status quo," Pariente wrote. "The ballot title is affirmatively misleading by its focus on 'Solar Energy Choice,' when no real choice exists for those who favor expansion of solar energy."

She also pointed out that the measure takes pains to define even commonplace words such as "consumer," but does not define "subsidy," which is used in a misleading and unsubstantiated way in the measure. She said the concerns over solar customers shifting costs to other, non-solar customers were "speculative and not borne out in any present reality."

“It is shameful that the utilities would go so far, and spend millions to manipulate and deceive their own customers,” Stephen Smith, Executive Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said in a statement. “We will absolutely continue to shine a light on their dirty tricks and hope that the voters of Florida will see their ballot initiative for what is it: a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a sham designed to keep more money in the power companies pockets.”

Comments

  • ArqaneArqane Solar Expert Posts: 31 ✭✭
    Resurrecting an old thread, but figured I'd add some information.

    Basically, this law was already in place, but they're trying to get it written directly into Florida's Constitution.  And it's looking like it'll probably pass.  The crux of the law, and what this will make even harder to change, is that you cannot sell electricity by the kWh in Florida unless you are a utility.  It certainly kept SolarCity at bay, since most of their successful packages included some type of charging by usage.  They do still have a few installations here, as they can lease out full systems without usage strings attached, or sell whole systems.

    I've been working on projects the past few years that were built specifically around those rather silly prohibitions.  My first project was teaming with the largest installer down here for their own leasing program.  The other way to follow the law, but still expand solar, is what I'm doing now.  I'm developing zero-energy apartments, and am simply not charging for electricity.  For the most part, that keeps me immune from Amendment 1 as well, regardless of which way it goes.  The worst they can do is crank up the interconnection fees.  I actually don't mind paying a fair share for the infrastructure upgrades needed for plopping down upwards of 2MW for an apartment complex.  But if they ever try and go too high, the designs allow for me to simply go off-grid.

    So, even though the amendment is a very cheap shot by the utilities, there's plenty of wiggle room to still push solar forward.  The amendment may even backfire on them if they try to take any further actions, since they'd have to shine light on their deception.  And considering there's a huge, uncommon alliance of the people who have done research on the subject, from solar installers and banks to libertarians and the Tea Party... they probably don't want all the voters in Florida to know what it was really about.
  • South AfricaSouth Africa Solar Expert Posts: 294 ✭✭✭
    edited October 2016 #3
    In South Africa it is still the Wild Wild West into grid tied systems. 

    The one province that has legislation in place, the Western Cape (Cape Town), has realised that if they allow grid tied solutions paying homeowners for their feed, the ripple effect is rather problematic down the road. Unsustainable even.

    As long as there are national grids, solar is a problem not only ito the "camel back" effect but also who pays for the maintenance of the grid. 

    Therefor we have connection fees for grid tied homes and no payment for any power fed back. Actually you have to have a zero account after 12 months. Have not checked up on that lately, if could have changed, but to empower homeowners is not going to happen.

    And there are no tax breaks or benefits or any assistance from the government to go solar for homeowners in SA.
  • jonrjonr Solar Expert Posts: 846 ✭✭✭✭
    No payment for power fed back is fine - IMO the point of home solar PV isn't to go into business.  It's "no credit for power fed back" that makes things more difficult and is sometimes a negative for the utility.
  • JohannJohann Solar Expert Posts: 239 ✭✭✭
    edited October 2016 #5
    In South Africa it is still the Wild Wild West into grid tied systems. 

    The one province that has legislation in place, the Western Cape (Cape Town), has realised that if they allow grid tied solutions paying homeowners for their feed, the ripple effect is rather problematic down the road. Unsustainable even.

    As long as there are national grids, solar is a problem not only ito the "camel back" effect but also who pays for the maintenance of the grid. 

    Therefor we have connection fees for grid tied homes and no payment for any power fed back. Actually you have to have a zero account after 12 months. Have not checked up on that lately, if could have changed, but to empower homeowners is not going to happen.

    And there are no tax breaks or benefits or any assistance from the government to go solar for homeowners in SA.
    If a home owner feeds power back into the grid, the power company says that there is a problem with peaks/ ribbles and connections and not to forget their wires etc etc.
    But if the power company runs a MW PV solar plant with it, all of sudden there is no problem anymore and then the power company is asking all consumers to pay for it.
    Why would the power company build a Mega Watt plant knowing that it is going to create problems like they told solar home owners?
    BIG, big  lies and many folks believe it.


  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 26,769 admin
    edited October 2016 #6
    They would not build them unless there are a bunch of tax credits & subsidies.

    For some projects, a wind farm will pay the utility to take the power (at night or other times when utility loads are light) because there are so many rate subsidies that are paid only when wind power is generated, regardless if anyone wants it.

    Also, when the utility supplies solar power, they are billing you the full rate. Not this thing where I sell power to them at $0.30 per kwatthour during the day and buy it back at $0.10 per kwh at night (all retail prices).

    That buy/sell at retail prices would not work in any other business.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • ArqaneArqane Solar Expert Posts: 31 ✭✭
    There are reasonable costs associated with solar.  The problem is, neither side really wants to be very reasonable.  Solar does help with peak hours, especially in places that need everything they can get at that time in the summer.  But net metering really is just another subsidy.  It doesn't really make sense economically for the grid, but does work well as a subsidy.  On the other hand, giving nothing back also doesn't make a lot of sense economically, when people will have more and more chance to simply go off-grid in the future (barring laws against it).  That would also be a big shock if people starting doing it in large numbers.

    Probably the most fair compromise would be an initial interconnection cost based on the size of the system (as that really does affect how much money they spend on infrastructure). Seeing as how that would make a higher initial investment, it could also be paid off over a certain amount of time.  'Net-metering' on a day-by-day basis makes sense, since it would be too complicated to figure out how to balance the times where you're supplying power and drawing some in the same day.  If you produce 10 kWh and use 10 kWh in a day, negating the cost doesn't make perfect sense, but it's going to be pretty fair.  Again for simplicity, that should probably go on for a month.  Any excess after a month should only be paid (or even really credited) at the retail rate.  If you're net-positive, then you really are acting like a power plant as far as the grid is concerned.  Yes, it will make it even trickier to build systems that balance your cost throughout a year in most places, but it is actually fair.

    So assuming that the government does want to stop, or severely drop the subsidizing of solar, I think that would be the best eventual plan to move in to.  It does strike a good balance between those using solar, and those not using it, getting as close to what is actual happening with the grid as possible.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 26,769 admin
    edited October 2016 #8
    My guess is about 25% of the residential Bill is variable (based on kwh used) the other 75% is based on fixed costs (including demand based infrastructure) in this thread or the other similar thread, the utility estimated it was 30/70 ratio.

    Either way, absent any any home based storage or local generation (like a natural gas genset that can support loads on demand), realistically, less than 1/3rd of my bill should be "rechargeable" with grid tied solar... Not all but $5 to $10 like it is for me (my minimum bill was raised to $10 a few months ago as "they" play the customer/utility game).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • jonrjonr Solar Expert Posts: 846 ✭✭✭✭
    > simply go off-grid in the future (barring laws against it)

    If this happens frequently they will charge for the fact that the power is available at the street.   In my case, they do this for water and sewer - I pay most of the bill even if I disconnect.    
  • ArqaneArqane Solar Expert Posts: 31 ✭✭
    edited October 2016 #10
    BB. said:
    My guess is about 25% of the residential Bill is variable (based on kwh used) the other 75% is based on fixed costs (including demand based infrastructure) in this thread or the other similar thread, the utility estimated it was 30/70 ratio.
    -Bill
    I misspoke in my example.  When I said the retail rate, I meant the rate at which power plants sell their electricity to the utilities.  So their retail rate, not the consumers was what I was thinking... oops.  And that happens to be around 30% of the customers' retail rate in most cases.

    But also what I was getting at is still keeping it simple, while being fair.  Even though in a very common scenario, if a customer generates 10 kWh, and uses 10 kWh, they will still have to draw 2 kWh from the grid that day because of the offset times, and put 2 into the grid that someone else ultimately uses (I suspect most people on this forum already know that).  Net metering makes that easy, since it's already compensated for when it balances out.  Even though it would be even more fair to charge retail rate to the customer for those 2 kWh, and only pay back the fuel rate at that time of day for the 2 kWh put into the grid, I think that's needlessly complicated at that point.  It would still balance out fairly close if you only did that with the extra remaining credit at the end of every month.
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