For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 12, 2016
Amendment 1 to Appear on 2016 General Election Ballot
Orlando, Fla. – Consumers for Smart Solar—a diverse, bipartisan coalition of business, civic and faith leaders—today launched its new ‘Yes on 1 for the Sun’ campaign to showcase its vision for solar energy in the State of Florida. Appearing on the 2016 General Election ballot, Amendment 1 will ensure that Floridians always have the right to own their own solar equipment and generate their own electricity. It also makes sure that solar has to play by the same consumer protection rules as other energy sources. The ballot language is as follows:
Rights of electricity consumers regarding solar energy choice
This amendment establishes a right under Florida’s constitution for consumers to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use. State and local governments shall retain their abilities to protect consumer rights and public health, safety and welfare, and to ensure that consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do.
During a press conference in Tallahassee, Fla., leaders of the coalition unveiled the branding for the new ‘Yes on 1 for the Sun’ campaign, including its new logo:
The coalition’s leaders, former Republican State Representative Jim Kallinger and former Democratic State Representative Dick Batchelor, each shared their thoughts on how Amendment 1 is good for Florida’s communities and consumers.
“We are excited to announce our new campaign – ‘1 for the Sun,’” said Kallinger, co-chair of Consumers for Smart Solar. “‘1 for the Sun’ showcases our vision: That because of its potential and positive benefits, solar can play an important role in Florida’s energy future, but we have to do it in the right way – a way that protects customers from scam artists, long-term contract traps and rip-offs. We believe that Amendment 1 will create the economic certainty necessary to encourage Floridians considering solar to proceed with that investment, knowing that their rights are protected in our constitution, and that the health, safety and welfare of the public will be protected – for both solar and non-solar customers. Under Amendment 1, electricity consumers are treated equally regardless of whether or not they choose to use solar energy.”
“Amendment 1 is good for the environment, it is good for consumers and it is good for Florida,” said Dick Batchelor, co-chair of Consumers for Smart Solar. “However, in looking at ways to increase the amount of our energy that comes from the sun, it is essential that we do so in a way that safeguards consumers – particularly our seniors – with commonsense consumer protection rules that benefit every consumer, and that we have all come to expect. Amendment 1 is a straightforward plan for the future of solar energy in Florida. It protects consumers’ right to choose solar from any provider, while providing for consumer protection laws that keep solar scam artists out of Florida. That’s the best way toward a bright future for solar energy in our state.”
“As a former Public Service Commissioner, I know first hand the expectations that are placed on our state regulators and elected officials to protect Florida’s energy consumer,” said former Public Service Commission Chairman Matthew M. Carter II and member of Consumers for Smart Solar. “And, that is why Amendment 1 is a top priority for me. Read Amendment 1 – and you will see that it was not written to benefit any one industry. It is written to benefit consumers. It establishes a framework in our constitution that cements important rights and protections with regard to solar energy, so that they cannot be weakened or ignored by special interests or policy makers. In fact, while Amendment 1 doesn’t preclude any other approach to solar energy in Florida, it merely makes certain that in this ever-changing world of solar, individual citizens will always have the right to generate their own electricity from their own solar equipment. And, it allows state and local governments to continue their current role of ensuring safe and reliable energy, while ensuring that consumers are dealt with fairly by companies that provide energy services.”
“Amendment 1 was put on the ballot with more than a million signatures gathered in just 5 months, and it enjoys the support of 73 percent of Florida voters with strong support from every demographic, geographic and political subgroup of voters,” said Screven Watson, former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party and board member of Consumers for Smart Solar. “However, believe it or not, there are out-of-state companies that don’t want people to own their own solar equipment and generate their own electricity. They prefer an arrangement where they can set up shop in Florida, immune from consumer protection laws, and lock Floridians into 20-year contracts with annual cost escalator clauses, whereby consumers would pay significantly more for solar electricity than we pay for traditional energy today.”
“Let me be clear,” said Watson. “Our amendment does not prohibit third-party solar electric in Florida. It just says that no matter what approach to solar energy policy Florida takes now or in the future, that government will retain its authority to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public, and retain its ability to protect consumers from scams, rip-offs, substandard equipment and unfair subsides. Too many people in other states have become victims for us to not worry about consumer protection.”
Just last week, Consumers for Smart Solar released a memo to the media that showcased an article out of Arizona that illustrated the need for Amendment 1. In this case, a third-party solar company from outside the state had come in, sold third-party leases to customers, and is now filing bankruptcy and leaving more than 750 Arizonans trapped in contracts with a company that apparently lacks the financial strength to meet its obligations to its customers and creditors. To view this article, please visit http://bit.ly/1PRUZzR.
“When you have a moment, just google ‘Arizona Solar Bankruptcy’ and read about the recent bankruptcy case with a third-party solar company, and google ‘Arizona Solar Fraud’ for articles about other consumer nightmares,” said Batchelor. “We don’t want solar to get a black eye. We want it done right.”
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