Solar Industry Wins a Round - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Solar Industry Wins a Round

The wording of a proposed amendment to Florida’s state constitution that would oblige the state to promote solar power and would allow the solar industry to generate and sell power in an unregulated way has been approved by the Florida Supreme Court.

The court’s ruling was not to the proposed amendment’s merits (if you’re not in the solar power business there are none), but affirms that the language of the amendment, put forward by an outfit called Floridians for Solar Power, is clear and treats only one subject.

“We are thrilled with the high court’s ruling so that voters may have the opportunity to vote on removing a barrier that currently blocks Florida’s families and businesses from greater energy choices through the power of the free market,” said Floridians For Solar Power chairman Tory Perfetti after the decision came down.

Well, I guess he is thrilled. Just how an amendment that obliges a state to promote a single form of energy and also sets out specific ways an industry can operate could possibly treat only one subject is a mystery to the untutored who have not passed the bar exam. Opponents of the measure, including Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, argued before the court that the amendment’s language is unclear and misleading. To no avail. The courts work in wondrous ways. But let this pass for the moment.

In Florida there is indeed a barrier to the solar industry operating in the way this amendment would allow. Currently (no pun intended), electric power can only be sold in Florida by regulated utilities. One doesn’t have to be a fan of everything electric utilities do to see the reason why the generation, distribution, and sale of power, on which our businesses and lives depend, has to be regulated. If the corner deli goes belly-up, that may be inconvenient. If the power company goes dark, so do you.

And Perfetti’s free market argument are fraudulent. There’s nothing free market about allowing solar companies to give subsidized solar panels and other equipment to residents and businesses and then selling them the power this equipment generates. Study after study has shown that solar power costs a multiple of what fossil fuel power costs to generate. Only the facts that solar equipment is heavily subsidized and solar receives tax breaks at all government levels make it possible for consumers to use it. Someone, however, must pay the rest of the tab. Solar power thrown on the free market wouldn’t last till the sun goes down.

But solar is popular and fashionable among enviros and others who have been convinced by the global warming hustle. Floridians For Solar Power is the brainchild of and is being financed and whooped up by the usual suspects — the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and various Tom Steyer outfits. It is not being supported — even though Floridians For Solar claims it is and Florida mainstream media play along — by conservative and free-markets groups.

Now that the court has given the amendment’s language a big wet kiss, Floridians’s For canvassers will have to gather about a half million more valid signatures of Florida voters by February 1 in order for the amendment to appear on the November 2016 ballot. They’ve already gathered more than 180,000. No one with any knowledge of the extent of enviro-money has any doubts that a sufficient number of signatures will be gathered. If the amendment winds up on the ballot, it would require a 60 percent yes vote to become part of the state’s constitution.

A second solar amendment out there, called Consumers for Smart Solar, may also make it to the ballot. This last is supported and funded by the state’s utilities and would keep the solar industry under state regulation. Neither of these has gotten much attention so far. I’ve not heard anyone mention either yet. But supporters of each will probably start trying to get voters’ attention next summer. This may be a challenge, what with a presidential race and all manner of state and local races. But I’m sure we can count on the state’s editorial writers to do their part for this item of the left’s agenda, disguised as a free-market initiative.

Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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