Miami Herald
“Report: Solar choice proposal could have $1.1B price tag”
By Michael Auslen
December 16, 2015The proposed solar power constitutional amendment — Floridians for Solar Choice — could cost ratepayers as much as $1.1 billion per year, according to a study released Wednesday by the James Madison Institute, a conservative think tank.Floridians for Solar Choice would allow people to contract with a company to install solar panels on their roof and buy that energy, instead of going through an existing utility company. Right now, to use solar power, a person has to buy the panels, which are very expensive.However, James Taylor, the study’s author, and Sal Nuzzo, the institute’s vice president of policy, say it amounts to a carve-out for solar power companies and on the backs of the rest of the state’s energy users.Here’s how they get to that $1.1 billion:“Our utilities are required to maintain 100 percent of grid capacity, regardless of whether a location provides its own energy through wind or solar,” Nuzzo said.This means that the power infrastructure has to be able to serve everyone in an area, even if they aren’t a customer of the utility. And that means maintenance costs, which the James Madison Institute report says would be shifted to other Floridians who do pay utility costs.If 8 percent of Floridians switch to solar power in the third year after Floridians for Solar Choice passes (itself a big feat), then the total cost shift hits $1.1 billion, Nuzzo and Taylor say.“They would then be free-riding, so to speak, on the rest of the traditional utility ratepayers,” Nuzzo said.But there’s a big disclaimer here: James Madison Institute has close relationships with the state’s large energy companies, which are fighting Floridians for Solar Choice and raising a lot of money to do it.Stan Connally, president and CEO of Gulf Power, sits on the institute’s board.His company contributed $640,000 to Consumers for Smart Solar, a political committee pushing a competing solar power amendment, which would solidify the existing regulations for solar power in the constitution.The other utilities have contributed huge amounts to the committee this year, as well:* $1.05 million from Florida Power and Light* $1 million from Duke Energy* $841,000 from Tampa Electric CompanyArticle: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2015/12/report-solar-choice-proposal-could-have-11b-price-tag.html