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Big Utilities Are Trying to Deceive Florida Voters With This Anti-Solar Amendment

by Carolyn Auwaerter

October 27, 2016

Florida’s Amendment 1 is another example of big money polluting our democracy as Duke Energy and others try to block solar energy in the Sunshine State.

Duke Energy Balloon Banner in the US

"Duke Don't Block Solar."

This election season, we have seen countless examples of special interests — including oil and gas companies — spending millions of dollars to influence candidates, fund ballot measures, and attack democracy itself.

One of the most egregious is Amendment 71 in Colorado, an attempt to change the rules of the ballot initiative process and make it more difficult for citizens to get initiatives like fracking regulations on the ballot.

But Colorado is far from the only state fighting corporate-backed initiatives to drown out the voice of the people. A similar battle is raging in Florida, and the future of solar energy in the state is at stake.

Big utilities in the Sunshine State are funding Amendment 1, a ballot measure deceptively worded to sound like it would support the expansion of solar when it would actually restrict it. Florida Power and Light, Tampa Electric Company, Duke Energy, and others have donated more than $22 million to Consumers for Smart Solar — the campaign promoting Amendment 1 — with Duke Energy directly contributing $5.7 million.

 

Funding to Consumers for Smart Solar for Amendment 1 as of Oct. 14, 2016. Courtesy Energy and Policy Institute.

Funding to Consumers for Smart Solar for Amendment 1 as of Oct. 14, 2016. Courtesy Energy and Policy Institute.

As Samantha Page at ThinkProgress wrote, “Solar companies usually back solar amendments. But they have all lined up solidly against Florida’s Amendment 1 .”

That’s because the amendment language would instead make it easier for utilities to charge fees to solar customers, making it more costly to install solar.

Recently leaked audio from an industry conference obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy and Energy and Policy Institute further revealed that the anti-solar effort is calculated, cynical, and far-reaching.

On the recording, Sal Nuzzo, a vice president at the Koch-funded James Madison Institute, can be heard saying that Amendment 1 is “an incredibly savvy maneuver” that would “completely negate anything they [pro-solar interests] would try to do either legislatively or constitutionally down the road.”

Since the audio was released, Duke Energy and the other utility companies have stayed silent while Consumers for Smart Solar have deleted Twitter and Facebook posts that link them to the James Madison Institute.

Protest at Duke Energy Annual Meeting

The good news is that nearly every major newspaper in Florida has come out against the measure, and a large coalition including environmental groups, labor, and solar companies — and Greenpeace — are telling voters to say no to Amendment 1.

You can help ensure this amendment doesn’t pass by sharing this post with your friends and, of course, voting! Together, we can take back our democracy from big polluters and pave the road toward a renewable energy future.

Carolyn Auwaerter

By Carolyn Auwaerter

Carolyn Auwaerter is a Field Organizing Manager at Greenpeace USA. She works on climate and renewable energy in the southeast and Greenpeace's Food for Life campaign.

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