Floridians for Solar Choice, an ad hoc group seeking a carve-out for the already heavily subsidized solar industry in Florida, appears to be running out of sunshine (it wouldn’t do to say gas here) in its constitutional amendment petition drive.
The group has gathered 271,000 certified signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the November 2016 state ballot that would oblige the state to promote solar power over other forms of electrical power generation and would allow citizens to generate solar power through a solar power company. This generation and sales would not be regulated in any way by the state’s Public Service Commission, which regulates electric utilities. And the power would be sold not by individuals but by solar power companies. The amendment is about as naked a push for a single industry’s self-interest as one is likely to encounter.
While more than a quarter of a million certified signatures seems impressive, it would require 683,149 signatures by December 31, to be verified by state officials by February 1. This is almost certainly out of the question as Floridians for Solar Choice is in a dispute with its California signature gathering firm, PCI Consulting, a dispute which, FloridaPolitics.com reports, has to do with “several hundred thousand dollars” the firm says Solar Choice owes. Solar Choice disputes this. But whichever side is right, the clock is running and most Floridians are far more interested in Christmas just now than they are in the future of the solar power industry in Florida.
The initiative has been largely financed by enviro-groups like the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and various Tom Steyer outfits. The group has claimed support from various conservative groups such as tea-party organizations, but almost all of these groups have opted out after considering the amendment. Solar Choice has claimed its amendment simply aims to put solar on the free market with other forms of power. The facts show otherwise. Solar is heavily subsidized at just about every government level and, without this huge government thumb on the scale, would last on the free market about as long as an ice cream cone would last outside in Phoenix in July.
“During the campaign, we faced vicious opposition with a goal to stop the grassroots movement comprising the full political spectrum as well as the business community,” FSC chairman Tory Perfetti whined. “The monopoly utilities have succeeded in making the qualification for 2016 difficult. But we are well positioned for 2018.”
Well, Tory, it’s not supposed to be easy to put special privilege for a single industry into the state’s constitution. The group may or may not be in a good position for 2018. But they were in a good position for 2016 with lots of time — they’ve been whooping this thing up since late last year — and lots of enviro-money in an attempt to sell the idea as an advancement of the free market and a boon to the environment. Plenty of signature gatherers have been lurking around plenty of public library entrances (including at the one I patronize). So far, no sale. But not to worry, the sun will come up in the morning.