Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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NextEra Energy Is Trying To Stop Solar In Florida

Solar energy is a booming industry. But regardless of its rise in popularity, it only accounts for 1% of all electricity in Florida. Despite this, utility giant NextEra Energy, is backing legislation that will remove the incentives for homeowners to install panels on their houses.

And this isn’t the first time. Six years ago, they even tried to end it through a ballot referendum. Luckily, voters saw through this, and it ultimately failed. This time, they are taking a different approach. They are donating large sums of money to politicians.

If this is successful, it could prevent the sunshine state from being a solar powerhouse.

Why Are There Solar Incentives In the First Place?

In 2008, solar incentives became available in multiple forms throughout the country.

At the time, solar installations were very expensive. Thus providing homeowners tax incentives was a great way to get the ball rolling. And as we can see today, it’s been a huge success. Solar energy is expanding fast, and lower prices have helped.

However, utilities like NextEra Energy believe that the market is established and no longer developing. Thus the incentives should end.

To a certain extent, this is not untrue. Solar installation continues to increase each year, but the cost of installing solar is still a barrier to entry. While it’s different for every state, the average cost in Florida is $13,920.

Even after a federal tax credit of $3,062, that’s still over $10,000! If the proposed legislation passes, it will make the sunshine state one of the most unfavorable locations for home solar installation in the country.

What a waste of potential.

What’s At Stake for NextEra Energy?

It’s pretty simple, money and control.

As the main utility within Florida, Florida Power & Light (FPL), a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, they are the only option in most areas to get electricity. Solar energy has changed this and the company argues that solar installations could cost the company as much as $700 million.

Due to how much they stand to lose, the multiple $10,000 donations to politicians is pocket change. It’s also worth highlighting the fact that NextEra Energy also plans to become a dominant force in the solar market.

Its position will allow it to secure contracts for home installations within Florida and ultimately keep smaller companies from competing.

Essentially, it’s an oligopoly that is fighting against fair competition in an area that only it can exist in.

What Exactly Would the Legislation Do?

Senate Bill1024 will allow cities to prohibit solar installation in residential and commercial areas.

Essentially, cities will make it so homeowners and businesses cannot install solar panels in the area. This ensures that the utility in the area, FPL, who is backing this legislation, will have complete control over electricity generation and distribution.

On January 11th,2022, in a 6 to 2 vote, the bill was voted to continue in the legislation process. The bill was officially filed on January 22nd and will require the governor’s signature, who also received $42,000 in donations from NextEra Energy.

At the time of writing, the Governor has not made any official statement on the bill.

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Robert Giaquinto

Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.

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