House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues (R-Estero) may have a little bit of extra sunshine in his life as House bill 1351 continues to make it way through the 2017 Legislative Session.
“We took a big step toward passing solar legislation in the House Commerce Committee that will protect Floridians and enact the will of the voters of Amendment 4,” Rodrigues said. “House Bill 1351 is largely supported by the solar industry and will allow for proper consumer protections as well as tax exemptions to take place.”
With more than 70% of Florida voters in support of Amendment 4 last August, lawmakers are now working toward implementing the amendment into Florida law. The proposed bill gives homeowners and businesses tax relief for installing solar equipment, like panels. The amendment exempts renewable-energy systems from the tangible personal property tax and ad valorem real estate taxes.
Even with a huge number of Florida voters in favor of the bill, there are some groups advocating for caution as the amendment turns into law after citing some issues other states have had as solar and renewable energy tax breaks were implemented.
Rodrigues, aware of the issues with other states, refers to Arizona specifically and how the process worked there. He says Arizona uses measures to protect consumer protection and now have a successful solar industry. Florida lawmakers had the chance to hear from Bob Stump, a former commissioner on the Arizona Corporation Commission, about what Arizona faced and how they fixed it to protect their citizens while offering renewal energy options.
“The charges were that these things would diminish solar in Arizona, but according to Mr. Stump, solar actually went up 8 percent after they instituted these provisions. Our provisions, according to the solar industry, are less onerous than the ones in Arizona, so I think clearly our state is positioned to enjoy a very robust growth in solar,” Rodrigues said.
Rodrigues explains the protective aspects of the bill stops energy efficient equipment vendors from using high-pressure sales tactics against home or business owners to purchase solar products unnecessarily or from making promises about the cost savings after installing the equipment.
The solar industry is supporting the bill.
“The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) applauds the initiative of House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues on House Bill 1351, which protects Floridians by providing them with the critical information they need to make smart decisions when considering solar,” said Tom Kimbis, executive vice president of SEIA.
A measure to implement Amendment 4, SB 90, is also being debated by the Senate.
Americans for Limited Government Foundation released a report entitled “Shedding Light on Solar Electricity.” The report covers a number of problems that the solar industry has been causing its customers. It also makes a number of recommendations to state legislators about how to protect consumers and improve transparency in the solar industry.