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Conservative Group Calls for Veto of Bill That Ends the Net Metering Credit

roof top solor panel.jpg
Photo courtesy Wikipedia
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Supports of Bill 741 say customers without solar arrays are subsidizing the grid-servicing-costs for those with roof top solar panels.

Florida-April 12, 2022: A national non-profit conservative group is urging Governor DeSantis to veto a measure that would eliminate the net metering credit. If the measure becomes law, 'Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship' says it would gut the rooftop solar industry in Florida and lead to higher power costs for all.

Dave Jenkins, 'Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship' President, says the bill would make rooftop solar panels un-affordable for most and lead to higher power bills statewide. “This legislation, which was written by FP&L," said Jenkins. "It tries to eliminate roof top solar in the state of Florida by taking away the financial incentives.”

Net metering allows Florida Power and Light customers to connect their roof-top solar panels to FPL’s electric grid. If your solar cells produce more energy than you need, the excess power is sold back to FPL’s grid as a credit. HB 741, now before the governor, would eliminate that credit by the end of next year.

The 'Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship' has 20,000 members nationwide and 6,000 here in Florida. “We’re conservatives who care about conservation and stewardship," said Jenkins. "We believe in capitalism and the free market and we have these monopoly utilities that are hell bent on squashing competition.”

The power industry and others who support ending the net metering credit argue that solar powered homes are still connected to the grid, and the power lines and poles that make up that grid still need to be maintained and serviced by FPL crews. Supports of Bill 741 say customers without solar arrays are subsidizing the grid-servicing-costs for those with roof top solar panels who are taking advantage of the net metering credit.

However, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC), which regulates public utilities, has never ruled on, or even made a determination of, what net metering and roof top solar panels may cost a utility. In addition, homeowners with solar panels on their roofs are already required to pay a minimum monthly bill of $25 to cover their fair share of the utility’s fixed costs.

"They claim that people subsidize roof top solar customers which is not true," said Jenkins. He says FP&L went ahead and put a subsidy for themselves in Bill 741. "They snuck in this subsidy provision that gives the utilities unlimited power to raise your electric bill to make up for and, get this, 'projected revenue unrealized due to competition.'"

If HB 741 is signed into law, Jenkins predicts power costs will "sky-rocket."

“The more people that have solar panels on their roofs that are making electricity, the less future power stations they have to build," he said. "Having a very diverse energy grid in Florida is the smart thing to do. You don’t want to have all your eggs in one basket.”

In response to a request fort comment, spokesperson Lisa Paul said FPL supports "net metering ... but this program needs reform, because the monthly reimbursement occurs at the retail rate for electricity, even though rooftop solar customers are selling a wholesale product. Currently, the annual subsidy paid for by all FPL customers to support rooftop solar is approximately $30 million today. By 2025, that subsidy is expected to nearly triple to more than $80 million."

Read the entire FPL statement in FULL below:

At FPL, we support all types of solar energy. We believe our customers and our state benefit the most when the largest amount of solar is installed at the lowest cost. Large-scale, universal solar is the fastest, most cost-effective way for us to bring more solar to Florida, while keeping bills low for customers over the long term.

We’ve built and operate more solar power plants than any other utility in the nation, have created tens of thousands of construction jobs across Florida and we have even more plants on the way as we work to install 30 million solar panels by 2025 – a plan that’s on budget and now five years ahead of schedule.

We also support net metering, the program that allows our customers who choose to generate power using solar panels on their roof to sell excess power back to FPL. But this program needs reform, because the monthly reimbursement occurs at the retail rate for electricity, even though rooftop solar customers are selling a wholesale product. Currently, the annual subsidy paid for by all FPL customers to support rooftop solar is approximately $30 million today. By 2025, that subsidy is expected to nearly triple to more than $80 million.

We are pleased Florida lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to pass bi-partisan legislation aimed at modernizing the state’s outdated net metering rules. The old rules have fueled a rapidly growing, multi-million-dollar annual subsidy paid for by the vast majority of Floridians who don’t have rooftop solar in support of those who do.

Data from across the country demonstrates how the rooftop solar industry continued to grow, and saw only minimal decline in adoption, after net metering reform. For example, Arizona implemented revised net metering rules in January 2017 and there has been virtually no change in the monthly growth rate. Simply put, the rooftop solar industry was not run out of business.

FPL leads the nation in expanding cost-effective, large-scale solar, and we also support our customers who choose to buy private rooftop solar systems. This legislation would take an important step toward balancing the costs of solar expansion in the state.

While it would still potentially lock in hundreds of millions of dollars in extra charges for non-rooftop customers, it importantly directs the Florida Public Service Commission to phase out this regressive tax and make solar energy more equitable for all Floridians, not just the fortunate few.

Lisa Paul
FPL Spokesperson
Marketing & Communications