| Rooftop Solar Bill Advances Despite Vocal Opposition, Threat to Climate Resiliency in Florida|
|HB 741, Net Metering, filed by Rep. Lawrence McClure (R-Dover) barreled through two committees this week. On Monday, the bill passed the State Administration and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee (Chair, Rep. Stevenson, R-St. Johns) with 9 yeas and 6 nays.|
The bill will have a chilling effect on Florida’s growing rooftop solar industry, a key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving climate resiliency in the Sunshine State.
Under current law, solar panel owners who create excess energy can sell that energy back to the utilities at the retail rate that the utility charges other customers, a process known as net metering. This helps those who want to install rooftop solar make back their initial investment, lowering the overall cost for those interested in this renewable energy solution. Moreover, by paying rooftop solar owners the retail rate for excess energy, more people can afford to install the panels.
The original legislation, if passed, would immediately change net metering, forcing homeowners to sell the electricity at the wholesale rate; i.e. what the utility company pays to procure the electricity from its usual sources. Rooftop solar owners, environmental advocates like Audubon, and the solar industry have argued this would make rooftop solar too expensive for many and would destroy thousands of jobs in this growing industry. Amendments filed on Monday and then again on Tuesday attempted to address some of these concerns. The amendment provided a “glide path,” where net metering rates would decline gradually over time: 75% of the retail value in January 2023, 60% in 2026 and 50% in 2027, and then drop to the full wholesale rate in 2029. A grandfathering provision in the bill ensures those who have installed solar already will keep the retail rate for 20 years. While these are important improvements, one major barrier remains: Monthly rather than instantaneous netting is needed for homeowners to predict their net metering revenue with greater certainty. Without it, the effect on the industry will still be dire, even with the “glide path.” While Audubon supported the amendment for moving the bill in the right direction, the bill is still too harmful to this essential renewable energy sector. Accordingly, even with the amendment, Audubon Florida does not support this bill.HB 741 also passed the House Commerce Committee 17 to 4 and the bill is now on Special Order Calendar in the House on March 1, 2022. Sen. Bradley (R- Orange Park), sponsor of the Senate companion, will present the bill at its last committee of reference, the Rules Committee, next week on March 1.
Thanks to the hundreds of Audubon advocates who responded to our alerts this week and last, who emailed their representatives on relevant committees to oppose the bill. Your voices are important to these discussions and we’re grateful for your advocacy!