Florida’s solar policy gets a controversial overhaul

Rooftop Solar
The Florida Legislature has passed sweeping changes to the state's net metering policy that has solar advocates warning of "nightmare" impacts to rooftop solar customers. Ready for the governor's signature, the bill would allow governing bodies to determine who can install solar systems and phase down net metering credits.

The Florida Legislature has passed changes to the state's net metering policy that has solar advocates warning of "nightmare" impacts to rooftop solar customers.

House Bill 741 directs the Public Service Commission to revise the state's net metering policy by Jan. 1, 2024.

Under the legislation, the commission would phase down credits for owned or leased systems interconnected in 2024 and 2025 to 75%, to 60% in 2026, and to 50% for systems installed in 2027 and 2028.

Customers who install systems before Jan. 1, 2029 would be grandfathered into the existing net metering policy for 20 years, an extension from a previous bill that set the deadline at Dec. 31, 2023.

After Jan. 1, 2029, rooftop solar customers must pay the full cost of electric service and "may not be subsidized" by non-solar customers. Energy credits for rooftop solar customers would drop down to the utility's avoided-cost rate.

The bill would allow a public utility to petition the commission for "any combination" of fixed fees for rooftop solar generators.

The bill is ready to be signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“This bill is a nightmare for anyone who believes in energy freedom and the rights of people to choose the energy that works for them and their families," said Will Giese, southeast regional director for the Solar Energy Industries Association The legislation was passed by the state Senate on March 7, three days after it cleared the House.

"States that enact bad legislation like this will see much of that business growth disappear, and we’re urging Governor DeSantis to veto the bill and maintain Florida’s place as a national energy leader," Giese said.

Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley, author of a companion bill in the Senate, told news outlet WFSU that utilities shouldn't be required to purchase extra energy generated by rooftop solar systems when a utility can buy electricity from a utility-scale solar farm for less.

Bradley called the existing net metering policy "regressive."

More than 11,000 jobs support the solar industry in Florida, according to SEIA. There are just over 107,000 rooftop solar installations in the state, a total that far lags its potential of over 1 million homes.

Based on 2020 data compiled by the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, 60% of solar customers in Florida have a household income of $100,000 or less.

Demographic solar data in Florida compiled by the Berkley Lab based on 2020 data

Net metering's most popular battle is currently underway in California, the largest solar market in the U.S.

Consulting firm Wood Mackenzie released analysis saying California’s newly proposed net metering tariffs would cut the state’s residential solar market in half by 2024.

NEM 3.0, named for the third generation of net energy metering policy in California, would reduce credits for rooftop solar customers and add monthly hookup charges of $8 per kW of installed capacity. The charge is intended to capture residential solar adopters’ “fair share of costs” to maintain the grid and fund public purpose programs.

The controversial NEM 3.0 proposal is backed by utilities Pacific Gas and Electric, Sothern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric.

The CPUC indefinitely delayed a decision on the proposal in February following an outcry from solar industry advocates, political leaders, and celebrities.

Author

  • John Engel is the Content Director for Renewable Energy World. For the past decade, John has worked as a journalist across various mediums -- print, digital, radio, and television -- covering sports, news, and politics. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina with his wife, Malia. Have a story idea or a pitch for Renewable Energy World? Email John at john.engel@clarionevents.com.

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John Engel is the Content Director for Renewable Energy World. For the past decade, John has worked as a journalist across various mediums -- print, digital, radio, and television -- covering sports, news, and politics. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina with his wife, Malia. Have a story idea or a pitch for Renewable Energy World? Email John at john.engel@clarionevents.com.

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