In a unanimous vote this week, Florida’s Public Service Commission approved the country’s largest, voluntary utility-led shared solar program after a settlement was reached between Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) SolarTogether program and a coalition of climate and community activists lead by Vote Solar. The settlement will also create the country’s largest low-income shared solar program, helping as many as 10,000 low-income Florida families benefit from solar energy.
“We applaud the Florida Public Service Commission for embracing a new, innovative solar program that will greatly expand access to solar power for customers, including low-income customers, and generate millions of dollars in projected economic benefits,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “There was a time when customers paid little mind to the source of their power. No longer. The Commission’s unanimous approval delivers a program that will help expand low-cost, clean, solar power options for the Sunshine State.”
FPL’s SolarTogether program will deploy almost 1,500 megawatts of solar power generation at sites around the state. In the settlement, 37.5 megawatts of energy generation will be set aside to generate savings for low-income families. Vote Solar estimates that the energy pool will help participants save $1,300 over the life of the program. The program will also offer a free home energy audit by FPL to subscribers that will help low-income families tap into even more savings.
“Every Floridian should be able to participate and benefit from affordable, clean, local solar power,” said Katie Chiles Ottenweller, Southeast Director for Vote Solar. “Solar is now the most affordable electricity resource in Florida, making it even more important that low-income families have access to solar savings.”
Shared solar programs like SolarTogether allow customers to subscribe to portion of a local, large-scale solar array and receive a credit on their electricity bill for the solar produced by their subscription. Importantly, shared solar allows renters, people with homes that are not suitable for solar panels and families who are unable to afford the upfront costs of owning their own solar panels to share in the financial benefits of solar. Currently, 19 states and Washington, D.C. have passed legislation to allow for shared solar programs. FPL’s program is so large that it will double U.S. shared solar capacity.
“Florida’s low-income families are already on the frontlines of the climate crisis, they have so much to gain from participating in shared solar projects like SolarTogether,” said Yoca Arditi-Rocha, Executive Director of the CLEO Institute. “We look forward to seeing similar offerings from the state’s other utilities.”
According to a press release about the project, SolarTogether is also expected to save millions of dollars for non-subscribing customers of FPL due to the fuel cost and avoided generation savings that come from investments in solar power. The program is set to launch later this year.