Solar Amendment Goes to Court - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Solar Amendment Goes to Court

A proposed amendment to the Florida state constitution which would oblige the state to promote the use of solar energy is going to the Florida Supreme Court to see if its wording is proper.

Here’s how this one starts out: “It shall be the policy of the state to encourage and promote local small-scale solar-generated electricity production and to enhance the availability of solar power to customers.”

Wow. That’s enough to make hearts around Solyndra go pitty-pat. Oops. I guess it can’t. Because Solyndra is gone, as is the more than half a billion taxpayers’ dollars sunk into this ill-fated project. But with an open-ended mandate that would be created by the meat-axe language above, Florida could have its own Solyndras.

The group pushing the amendment, Floridians for Solar Choice, claims more than 85,000 certified signatures on their petition, enough to send it to the Supreme Court to determine if its language is clear and treats only a single subject. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has approved the amendment’s trip to Tallahassee.

If the court gives the language a thumbs up, the group would have to collect more than 600,000 additional signatures, and have them verified by the Florida Division of Elections, to get the measure on the November, 2016 ballot. Constitutional initiatives in Florida must receive 60 percent of the vote to be incorporated into the state’s governing document. So the sunshine boys and girls have their work cut out for them.

The amendment would not only oblige Florida to shill for a form of electric power that costs a multiple of power generated by the use of fossil fuels, but would also allow Florida citizens and businesses to go solar by buying heavily subsidized solar equipment from the heavily subsidized solar industry and, so to speak, roll their own. The upshot of all if this would be a boost to an already favored industry taking advantage of the nation’s fossil-fuel-phobia. It would increase the cost of energy to ratepayers.

The rationale of the amendment’s supporters is absurd on the face of it. They say they just want solar to be available on the free market. There’s nothing free about the tens of billions in tax write-offs and subsidies the solar industry already enjoys each year at the expense of taxpayers. No mention in the proposed amendment of doing away with these. Solar wouldn’t last a half-hour on the free market. The cost of solar power dwarfs that of fossil-fuel-generated power, and will for the foreseeable future. Perhaps for all time. Making solar attractive requires a kind of accounting that would have made Charles Ponzi proud.

Alas, solar power is one of those things that can be made to sound attractive to many, especially those who have fallen for the global warming hustle, and who believe fossil-fuel-generated power to be “dirty” power. Most of the state’s large, and almost invariably liberal, newspapers have fallen for the gag, taking the amendment promoters’ fraudulent free-market arguments at face value. This in spite of the fact that the amendment is being boosted by such free-market advocates as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club. Most of the funding for the amendment’s signature gathering operation has come from hard-left environmental groups.

Many of the state’s media outlets have even agreed to believe the claim that, along with the usual leftist suspects, the amendment also has widespread support among the state’s Tea Party and conservative religious groups. This support has to be believed to be seen. One Tea-Party group, the Tampa 912 Project, pitched late last month at a meeting by a Solar Choice spokesman, has declined to offer its support. In a prepared statement, the group said it prefers such policy matters to be dealt with legislatively rather than through constitutional amendments. “We support a Florida legislative effort that leads to free markets for all energy sources,” the group said.

At the March 24 Tampa 912 meeting, Solar Choice spokesman Tori Perfetti was asked why his group didn’t simply lobby the Florida Legislature for the policies they wanted. He lamented that sundry had lobbied the legislature for years for the kind of set-up the current proposed constitutional amendment would produce, but had always been turned down. Gee, maybe there’s a reason.

Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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