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'Net metering' solar bill ready for floor vote in Florida House

'We shouldn't be hampering the growth,' Rep. Anna Eskamani says
Posted at 5:39 PM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 17:39:56-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A plan to cut incentives for rooftop solar owners is now set for a floor vote in the Florida House on Wednesday.

HB 741, backed by major utilities, gives those companies a big break on the price of excess power they are required to buy from rooftop solar owners. The companies have said this will prevent a rate hike for all customers as solar grows in the state.

"If you don't have rooftop solar in the state of Florida, you are subsidizing someone who does," said the bill's House sponsor, Rep. Lawrence McClure, R-Plant City. "As it continues to grow in the state, you're going to pay more."

Rep. Lawrence McClure speaks on rooftop solar bill
Rep. Lawrence McClure has tried to ease the changes laid out in his bill.

Solar providers, however, worry the change will put their businesses in jeopardy, raising customer costs and chilling interest in the industry. Estimates show providers have created around 40,000 jobs and put billions into the economy.

Democrats offered eight amendments Tuesday afternoon to ease concerns. They included carve-outs, studies and one attempt to change the policy name to the "Florida's People Lose Act" or "FPL Act."

"We shouldn't be hampering the growth," said Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, who sponsored the name change. "I think our big concern with the direction this policy goes is that it's not something Floridians are asking us to do. It's something that special interests are asking us to do."

Rep. Anna Eskamani speaks on plan to slash incentives for rooftop solar owner
Rep. Anna Eskamani is among the Democrats who opposes the legislation.

The GOP majority rejected all of the revisions. Supporters of the bill said it already has concessions in its language. They include a 20-year grandfather clause for existing solar customers and a gradual six-year transition period for new ones.

"California has said it, the demise of rooftop solar will probably be the fact that they didn't make revisions," McClure said. "We do not want to do that here. We want to put a glide path in place that makes a lot of sense and stabilizes the industry but saves the ratepayers."

Leadership in the House has set aside 90 minutes for debate before the Wednesday vote. Both opponents and supporters get half that time to make their case.

If approved, HB 741 would head to the Senate, which will likely be ready for its floor vote in the coming days. If both chambers pass identical versions of the bill, it heads to the governor for signature.