by Erika Biddle…….
Last century the US led the world in renewable energy research and production, and Jimmy Carter’s White House was the first government building in the world to install solar panels on its roof. For a time, the United States led the world in developing renewable energy. The Carter administration’s Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI) made the dream of a renewable energy economy so real that it set off alarms in the oil-rich countries of the Middle East. “The big powers are seriously trying to find alternatives to oil by seeking to draw energy from the sun,” Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Sheikh Ahmad Zaki Yamani warned his colleagues.
Four years later, Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan. The budget of the world’s leading solar institute was slashed and before long it was back to (oil) business as usual. Reagan said, ‘Go away with this nonsense of renewables.’ And that was that. A generation of Germans picked up the renewable torch that the Reagan administration tossed aside and bought up SERI-produced patents at fire-sale prices. The renewable energy revolution didn’t end. It moved overseas and was renamed ‘die Energiewende’.
The word translates simply as, “energy change.” But there’s nothing simple about the Energiewende. It calls for an end to the use of fossil fuels and nuclear power and embraces clean, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass. Most Americans just assume that the only way to get power is from a few large generating plants, usually owned by corporate utilities operating as monopolies. Not so in Germany. Decentralizing electricity was at the core of the example of the revolutionary movement known as the Energiewende. If utilities had remained in control of electrical generation, renewable power would still be a novelty. Decentralization is one of the keys to the Energiewende’s success. It rewarded people who installed solar panels on their roofs, or invested in cooperatives that bought wind turbines, by paying them for the energy they produced.
Florida, the Sunshine State, should become a model for solar power. “Why don’t we have a bigger solar industry in Florida?” The answer is simple. Every kilowatt of solar you produce on your roof is one less kilowatt that the utilities can sell you.”
Florida’s largest utility companies have invested heavily in state political campaigns to fend off competition from rooftop solar power. They do anything to stop homeowners from selling extra energy created from solar back to utility companies, perhaps the biggest blow yet to Florida’s fledgling solar industry. They wrote Amendment 1 on the November ballet and rather than openly opposing the solar effort, opponents created a rival group, Consumers for Smart Solar, that has confused and obfuscated the legitimate solar effort.”
The ballot summary is brilliant in its deception.
It starts with: “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.”
This grants no new right — it is already afforded through state law. The purpose of leading with this language was to fool voters into thinking this was pro-solar.
It goes on to say: “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.”
This is the crux of the amendment that would require more regulation of small businesses that dare to compete with the monopolistic utility companies. Under the guise of consumer protection, it would actually protect their profits and limit competition.
And it proposes doing this in the Florida Constitution — not through general law, thus making it much more difficult to change.
The four major utilities — Duke Energy, Gulf Power, Tampa Electric and Florida Power & Light — have given the lion’s share of the $21 million reported for the initiative. That’s a lot of our electric bill payments going to deny us choice and competition.
It takes 60 percent of the vote to pass. Don’t be fooled by their clever ploy. Vote NO on Amendment 1 in NOvember and let them know you’re smarter than they think.