FMEA touts tax benefits of Florida solar plan

If 60 percent of Floridian voters agree, a tax break proposal from solar industry groups may gain ground in 2016 election decisions, the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) recently reported from its base in Tallahassee.


If 60 percent of Floridian voters agree, a tax break proposal from solar industry groups may gain ground in 2016 election decisions, the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) recently reported from its base in Tallahassee.

Amendment 4, crafted for the primary election ballot, is designed to increase sustainable energy initiatives in Florida by exempting both business and industrial property owners from tax assessment on solar and renewable-energy devices installed on their properties for 20 years.

Without marked opposition, the measure — overseen by Florida for Solar — has gained approval from diverse industry stakeholders including Florida Retail Federation, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, the League of Women Voters of Florida and the Nature Conservancy.

Additionally, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy intends to support the amendment with an investment of approximately $250,000. The Alliance’s executive director, Stephen Smith, stated that the group believes overall energy costs would decrease as the industry evolves.

“[It] will also diversify the different types of energy being developed,” said Smith. “Right now, Florida is becoming way too dependent upon natural gas.”

FMEA said that the main challenge in passing the measure is raising awareness, including clarification to distinguish Amendment 4 from Amendment 1, the “Consumers for Smart Solar” proposal currently backed by some Florida utilities that would allow residents to sell solar energy to power companies. Its opponents contend that the measure disproportionately favors the utilities.

If the amendment passes, said Florida Power & Light spokesman Mark Bubriski, consumers will see savings on future FPL solar installations. Regardless of the legislation’s status, FPL plans to expand on existing large-scale solar operations, for customers such as Daytona International Speedway, Florida International University and the Palm Beach Zoo.

“We built the state’s first solar power plant,” Bubriski said. “[In] 2016, we are building three more new solar power plants — doubling Florida’s solar capacity — in a way that is cost-effective for our customers.”

 

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