Solar Power

Florida state voters reject Amendment 1

Florida voters once again affirmed their overwhelming support for solar progress, this time voting against anti-solar Amendment 1 on the November ballot.

In a true David and Goliath battle, a diverse grassroots coalition of more than 200 organizations, solar companies, elected officials, and thousands of concerned citizens worked to defeat the deceptive utility-backed amendment. Amendment 1 opponents feel that a significant percentage of the ‘yes’ voters felt they were tricked once they understood the true nature of the ballot measure. Constitutional amendments in Florida require 60 percent support to pass.

A broad coalition of citizens and organizations publically opposed Amendment 1, including the solar industry, environmental and consumer advocates, and every major newspaper editorial board in Florida. In August, 73% of primary voters in Florida supported pro-solar measure Amendment 4.

“Solar is tremendously popular across state and party lines, and today’s rejection of Florida’s anti-solar ballot measure is a reminder of that,” said Scott Thomasson, director of new markets at Vote Solar. “Florida voters were armed with the truth behind Amendment 1, and for the second time this year, they cast their ballots for solar progress, customer choice, and local jobs,” said  Vote Solar’s director of new markets Scott Thomasson.

The millions of dollars in slick ad buys and glossy mailers did not win the day as opponents of Amendment 1 successfully harnessed social and earned media to educate Floridians about the true intent of this deceptive proposal while tapping a vast network of organizations, solar businesses and supporters who remain committed to growing – not restricting – Florida’s solar industry.

“Today, as a coalition representing every part of Florida’s political spectrum, we defeated one of the most egregious and underhanded attempts at voter manipulation in this state’s history. With God’s blessing and the hard work of every member of Floridians for Solar Choice, we won against all odds and secured a victory for energy freedom. This is a win for the people and I could not be more honored to be a part of this historic victory as Chairman of Floridians for Solar Choice,” said Tory Perfetti, chairman of Floridians for Solar Choice and director of Conservatives for Energy Freedom.

“This diverse group of supporters rallied together to defeat a powerful foe with unlimited funds. We were on the RIGHT side of the issue and we beat a deceitful amendment with the MIGHT of the Florida voter. Floridians want more rooftop solar and want the monopoly utilities to end their attacks on clean energy, small business and freedom of energy choice,” said Patrick Altier, president of the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association.

“Today was truly a Solar Uprising. For the second time this year, Florida voters have seen the light – first by supporting Amendment 4 this summer lowing burdensome taxes on solar power and now by defeating the utility-backed attempt to choke off customer-owned solar with the deceptively-worded Amendment 1. The Sunshine State voters have spoken clearly: they want more solar friendly policies and the freedom to harness the sun’s power for the benefit of all Floridians and not just the monopoly utilities,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and board member of Floridians for Solar Choice.

“Congratulations to Florida voters for refusing to be tricked by the monopoly utilities who spent millions to and deceive them. Thankfully, voters were no hoodwinked by big money and slick words. And once voters get informed, they spread the word and they vote. What a waste of $ 26 million that could have been used to truly build solar in our state,” said Pamela Goodman, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida.

Diverse groups from the Christian Coalition to the Everglades Coalition and the Tea Party Network to Florida’s AFL-CIO comprised this coalition of unlikely bedfellows. In addition to such varied support, every major newspaper in Florida opposed Amendment 1, warning voters to say no in 41 editorials.

“In all my years of public service, I had never seen such a thinly veiled attempt to intentionally mislead Florida voters. Voters sent a clear message today to the monopoly utilities that deception against solar power is not going to work in the Sunshine State,” said Mike Fasano (R), a former state Senator and current tax collector of Pasco County Tax.

“Amendment 1 was a deceptive measure that would have been a major step backwards for Florida’s energy future. Floridians understand the power of the sun, and they have wisely refused to pass an amendment that would have undermined the use of solar energy. With this vote, the people have now spoken both in August and November that they want the Sunshine State to live up to its name. Now is the time for us to follow the example of our neighbors in Georgia and adopt policies that will encourage more solar energy in Florida,” said former U.S. Senator and Florida Governor Bob Graham.

“By rejecting Amendment 1, Florida citizens can continue to expand solar power growth, which is one way people can help care for God’s creation and create a brighter future for all of our children,” said Florida Christian Coalition Chairman, Ash Mason.

“The failure of Amendment 1 is the clearest signal yet that Floridians want more access to clean solar energy. There is no greater threat to Florida than climate change and sea level rise. Millions of Floridians voted against the anti-solar amendment and they recruited their friends to do the same. We’re excited to see citizens so energized to make Florida ‘The Solar State,” said Aliki Moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters.

“Amendment 1 would have created new barriers and costs for consumers interested in generating their own power through rooftop solar panels while favoring the utilities over ordinary consumers, so we are glad it did not pass,” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports.

“True conservatives believe in the free market and competition, I am pleased to see Amendment 1 defeated as it would have further locked in the big power companies’ monopoly,” said Catherine Baer, The Tea Party Network.

“Floridians of all political beliefs joined together on election day to reject the lies and thievery of the power companies that spent $ 26 million of ratepayers’ money to promote Amendment 1. A new movement has formed today for clean solar energy and independence from the dominance of monopoly electric utilities over people’s lives, homes, and businesses,” said Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club Florida Chapter Director.

“Florida’s big power companies tried to pull a fast one on voters and trick them into amending our State Constitution to make it more costly to put solar on your roof. Thankfully, Florida citizens saw through this con job,” said Susan Glickman, Florida Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Action Fund and a leader of the No on One campaign.

“Beneath the historic news of the election of the 45th president of the United States lies a decision by the people of Florida that is worthy of recognition on a national scale: the defeat of Amendment 1,”  said Tom Kimbis, interim president of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in a statement. “By voting to stop an amendment funded by the state’s wealthy utilities, Floridians made clear that they care about their rights—their property rights, their right to competitive markets and their right to go solar.”
“On course to be the top source of new power in the U.S. this year, solar provides reliable, affordable and clean electricity to Floridians and all Americans,” Kimbis continued. “The resounding rejection of Amendment 1 should send a message across not just Florida but all states not to curtail solar choice.”
“Florida is now at a crossroads: it can embrace rooftop solar as a secure power source or allow the current electricity monopolies to keep playing games with homeowners,” Kimbis concluded. “Florida’s leaders should recognize that Floridians want access to solar and the well-paying jobs and economic benefits that solar offers. With smart policy and greater competition, Florida can become a national leader in solar energy. We look forward to working with policymakers and solar companies from Tallahassee to Miami to ensure the positive momentum of today’s decision continues.”

News combined from statements from Floridians for Solar Choice, Vote Solar and SEIA

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