The heated debate over Florida’s solar energy amendment

MIAMI (WSVN) - Amendment One has presented an issue for Florida voters regarding residents’ rights to own or lease solar energy equipment for personal use.

Some supporters have said it protects consumers who have solar, and then there are those who do not believe the amendment is what it seems to be on the surface. Many suspect it will only promote solar energy developed by utility companies.

Advertisements in favor for Amendment One have been hyped up in recent weeks, and, according to the company behind them, they can afford the exposure.

Consumers for Smart Solar has amassed nearly $22 million in donations. Most of the donation dollars have come from major utility companies, like Duke Energy’s $5.7 million in donations. FPL is behind them at $5.4 million.

Organizer Matt Carter is a former utility regulator and said the goal is to protect consumers. “Protection from fraud. Protection from substandard equipment,” said Carter. “Protection from scams and rip-offs.”

When asked how many consumers regularly contribute, Carter said he had no answer but that the information “is readily available.”

After further research, only 12 consumers have contributed $405 out of the $21.8 million in favor of the amendment.

Former Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Colleen Castille said the utilities would be the biggest beneficiaries if the solar amendment passes. “I would tell people to vote ‘no’ because it limits their ability to have solar on their home or on their business,” said Castille.

The amendment is required to pass by 60 percent in order to be put into effect.

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