Shop for electricity? Florida voters could decide in 2020.
- Jan 25, 2019 12:58 pm GMTJan 25, 2019 3:04 pm GMT
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The petition reached the threshold of 76,632 signatures required to be reviewed by Attorney General
The proposal, put forward by the political committee, calls for the customer's "right to choose" and would loosen the grip of private utility monopolies like
The language aims to protect customers against deceptive or unfair practices and establish an independent market to make energy sales competitive, the
The committee had raised more than
The proposal says nothing in the language should be interpreted to affect the existing rights of utility companies or the state's policies on energy. But utilities fear more competition and more rooftop solar means lower costs and therefore, lower bottom lines for the regulated monopolies.
"The longer-term threat of fully exiting from the grid [or customers solely using the electric grid for backup purposes] raises the potential for irreparable damages to revenues and growth prospects," wrote the
Opponents have also said the market changes would be complicated and that customers would not save much in costs.
"Deregulation does not reduce prices for the average customer," said
"Deregulation is a historically failed idea that will be harmful for consumers, bad for
FPL has promised to install more than 30 million solar panels by 2030 and eliminate its last coal-fired plant by the end of this year. With the new plan, the company said it hopes to be the largest operator of solar generation in the country.
Patton, the political committee's chairman, said the threat of competition is a good thing for the renewable market, but added that having choice is still key.
The proposal is modeled closely after
Parent companies like NextEra Energy, which owns
The proposal faces a hard road ahead if history is any indication.
"When you are powerful and entrenched, you fight against change and disruption," Patton said. "The monopoly utilities have proven in other states that they will bankroll almost an unlimited amount of money. We're going to have to do more with less, be smarter and make our case very clear."
The energy choice issue had an unsuccessful run in 2018 through both the Legislature and the
"We believe deregulation would have a detrimental impact on
In 2016, solar industry advocates tried to get a proposal on the ballot that would allow homeowners and businesses to sell excess solar generation to third parties in an effort to expand rooftop solar, but the proposal never made it on. The practice is allowed in all but four other states.
That same election cycle, utilities backed a ballot measure that claimed to expand solar in
In the audio, he called it "an incredibly savvy maneuver" that "would completely negate anything they [pro-solar interests] would try to do either legislatively or constitutionally down the road."
"To the degree that we can use a little bit of political jujitsu and take what they're kind of pinning us on and use it to our benefit either in policy, in legislation or in constitutional referendums -- if that's the direction you want to take -- use the language of promoting solar, and kind of, kind of put in these protections for consumers that choose not to install rooftop," he said.
Glickman compared the proposal to the deregulation of the telecommunications industry, noting that having a choice of phone carriers resulted in significantly lower costs for cell service.
"We've been in this regulated market for a long time," she said. "It would be the first time in 20 years that there was a large market opened up."
She said the public will also likely support the proposal because of residual bad feelings toward monopoly utilities after how they handled Amendment 1.
"We've seen it in polling," she said. "It's a direct result of their bad behavior being exposed."
"Nobody trusts FPL anymore to do what they say they're going to do," he said.
Stoddard referred back to Amendment 1, for which the utility-backed group paid signature gatherers
After reaching a crucial threshold and getting court approval for its ballot language, the group collecting signatures for the opposing energy-backed group raised its rates for each new signature from
This time around, signature gathering is proving to be a problem once again. Ballot Access, a signature-gathering firm, was hired to get signatures for the crucial threshold in October. Once they did, they started the process of negotiating a contract to collect the rest of the signatures.
They quit the agreement before they signed a contract.
"They suddenly found a conflict," Patton said.
Ballot Access could not be reached for comment.
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