Political gridlock restricts Florida, the Sunshine State, from third-party sales of solar power. As of right now, Florida residents and business owners can only buy electricity from utilities. Liberal environmentalists and tea-party conservatives are working together to allow non-utility companies to install solar panels for consumers. The group is working to place an initiative, requiring more than 680,000 signatures, on Florida’s 2016 ballot that would allow more access to solar power, and less protection of utility companies with a monopoly on solar energy.
Florida has the biggest potential in the solar power market, but it is underperforming compared to other states. With 229 megawatts coming from solar power, Florida ranks 13th in installed solar volume, compared to California, with 8544 megawatts. The amount of solar power Florida generates is disproportional to the population of the state, with Florida ranking third most-populous state behind California and Texas. The change in Florida towards easier access to solar power would be a big step towards clean energy.
If third-party companies were allowed to sell solar energy, consumers would be able to avoid installation costs, and drive the price of electricity down. Florida Senator Jeff Brandes is a supporter of solar power, and seeks to reduce taxes for businesses who install solar panels on rooftops. Brandes comments, “we have these regulated monopolies that have worked very hard over the years to keep solar out. And now you’re seeing Floridians rise up and demand that they address solar.” With legislation on its way to Congress, the future of Florida’s solar energy looks bright.