Florida Community Solar SB 1156

If you want solar power in Florida, please call your state Senator and ask them to support SB 1156. If incumbent electric utilities don’t get on with solar power, community solar is one of the things that will replace them. Expect utilities and fossil fuel companies to oppose this bill, so it is important for you to support it.

Vote Solar
Florida Introduces Community Solar Legislation to Expand Clean Energy Access, Jobs, by rosalind, Vote Solar, 19 February 2019.

Vote Solar et alia, Press Release, 19 February 2019, Florida Introduces Community Solar Legislation to Expand Clean Energy Access, Jobs,

Today, Florida State Senator Lori Berman introduced community solar legislation (SB 1156), which will expand consumer access to affordable clean energy and increase jobs in the state’s new energy economy. Leading solar, environmental and community organizations Vote Solar, Solar United Neighbors, Earthjustice and the League of United Latin American Citizens Florida (LULAC FL) applauded the bill and Senator Berman’s leadership in expanding solar savings, local jobs and community resilience in the Sunshine State.

“For every homeowner we’ve helped go solar over the past several years through our solar co-op programs, there are many more who are unable to do so because they rent or don’t have a solar-suitable roof,” said Angela DeMonbreun, Solar United Neighbors of Florida program director. “This bill would empower these people, as well as small businesses and non-profits to save money and take control of where their electricity comes from by going solar.”

“Lower electric bills, cleaner energy, and a healthier environment, that is the promise of solar energy,” said Luis Torres, Senior Legislative Representative for Earthjustice. “And now, thanks to community solar legislation introduced by Senator Lori Berman, Florida families are one step closer to accessing these benefits by way of a new community solar program. With community solar, families of all income levels are able to harness the power of the sun with low and moderate income families set to be big winners under this new bill.”

“As the nation’s oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization, LULAC Florida works to ensure that the interests of Latinos are front and center at the capitol,” said Mari Corugedo, State Director for the Florida chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC FL). “Latinos are particularly impacted by the adverse effects of climate change and moving toward clean renewable energy is key to addressing this issue. In addition to producing clean and renewable energy, community solar, in particular, has the added benefit of allowing low and moderate income families the ability to access the benefits of solar energy. We are encouraged by legislation to authorize a new community solar program for the potential it has to serve countless low and moderate income Latino families in our state.”

“Florida is now the nation’s second largest solar job creator, with more than 10,350 Floridians already working to build a brighter, more resilient energy system according to the National Solar Job Census,” said Katie Chiles Ottenweller, Southeast Director for Vote Solar. “By clearing the way for more participation and investment in local clean energy projects, this community solar bill will create even more good local jobs and economic opportunity in communities across the state.”

Solar has quickly become one of America’s fastest growing and lowest cost energy sources. However, physical and financial barriers prevent many consumers from going solar on their own rooftops — families who rent, have shaded rooftops, or businesses that lease their space, for example. If passed, SB 1156 would to give more Floridians a way to go solar by participating in a community solar installation located in their community and receiving a credit on their utility bill for their share of the power produced.

About Vote Solar: Since 2002, Vote Solar has been working to lower solar costs and expand solar access. A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Vote Solar advocates for state policies and programs needed to repower our electric grid with clean energy. Learn more at www.votesolar.org.

About Solar United Neighbors: Solar United Neighbors is the only organization in the country dedicated to representing the needs and interests of solar owners and supporters. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit. We help people go solar, join together, and fight for their energy rights. Learn more at Solarunitedneighbors.org.

About Earthjustice: Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.

About LULAC Florida: As the Florida chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the nation’s oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization in the country, LULAC FL fights for the interests of the Latino community in the state.

Florida Senator Lori Berman (District 31, Palm Beach County), Press Release, 19 February 2019, SENATOR BERMAN FILES SB 1156 TO TAP THE SUN FOR FLORIDA’S FUTURE,

TALLAHASSEE — Seeking to capitalize on an abundance of freely available energy and dramatically bring down costs for consumers, state Senator Lori Berman (D-Delray Beach) on Tuesday announced the filing of legislation establishing the first-ever statewide community solar program. The goal is to create at least 500 MW of community solar generating capacity, with 40% of that capacity reserved, on an annual basis, for low-to-moderate income community solar projects, as well as launch Florida into the forefront of solar-based economic growth.

“Renewable and solar energy legislation is long overdue in the state of Florida. I am proud to be a leader in this field and hope my colleagues in the legislature and those in the utility industry can join me and support this good legislation,” said Senator Berman. “This is the culmination of a project I have worked on for several months and I am excited to share it.”

SB 1156 allows electric customers in Florida to purchase, lease, or subscribe to a portion of a community solar facility and use their portion of the power produced to lower their energy bills, much as if they had installed the system on their property. Community solar programs can provide access to local, affordable and clean energy options to all energy customers—including schools, non-profits and churches. A well-designed community solar program is also an innovative tool that can leverage private investment to remove barriers to solar access for low-income households, affordable housing providers and other underserved communities to access clean energy.

It’s also a job-creator. More than 10,350 Floridians are already employed in the state’s growing solar industry, ranking Florida second in the nation for total solar jobs according to the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Job Census. By clearing the way for more investment in local clean energy infrastructure, SB 1156 will contribute to a more resilient grid, provide jobs for Florida, and otherwise spur local economic development in the state’s communities, adding Florida to the 19 states and the District of Columbia that have community solar programs in place since just 2010.

Solar has quickly become one of America’s fastest growing and lowest cost energy sources. However, physical and financial barriers prevent many Florida consumers from going solar on their own rooftops — families who rent, have shaded rooftops, or businesses that lease their space, for example. Community solar will expand access to affordable solar energy to all Floridians, regardless of their ability to place solar panels on their own property. Community solar is a critical tool to provide affordable and predictable energy bills for Florida’s 1.3 million low-income households, 1.2 million moderate-income households, and 400,000 households living in affordable housing.

“I sat on the House Energy and Utility Subcommittee for six out of eight years as a House member. Florida lags behind the rest of the country, especially for a state known as the ‘Sunshine State’. It is time we utilize the resources right here in front of us. The benefits are plentiful and the concepts are truly a no-brainer,” stated Senator Berman.

The filing of SB 1156 marks the ongoing commitment Senator Berman has made to the development of solar energy in Florida. Last year, she attended Colorado State University’s Center for New Energy & Economy’s Clean Energy Legislative Academy and committed at that time to filing a community solar bill for the 2019 session. She also pushed for passage of Amendment 4 during the August 2016 primary election, which passed successfully with the support of 73 percent of Florida voters. Amendment 4 provides a property tax exemption for the installation of solar equipment.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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