In the Sunshine State, we get an average of 32 more sunny days per year than the national average, and our sunlight is more intense than most other states.
As we transition to a cleaner energy mix, solar makes sense in Florida, especially since it has rapidly become more affordable. That’s why Governor Ron DeSantis’ decision to veto the net metering bill, despite Republican support, was the right thing to do.
Net metering refers to the ability of consumers to sell the electricity they do not use back into the power grid at market price. When the sun is particularly strong and long-lasting, as it is in most of Florida, it generates more electricity than customer demand at that time.
When solar customers generate more electricity than they can use or store, net metering gives them the ability to sell it back to the wider grid. This, in turn, increases energy efficiency, makes the grid cleaner and more reliable, and provides additional incentive to adopt clean energy. Allowing net metering should be a no-brainer. That’s why 84% of Floridians support him.
The aforementioned bill would have phased out net metering over the next eight years in Florida. Proponents have argued that net metering is actually a subsidy for rooftop solar adopters paid by non-solar Florida households, but they have provided nothing substantial to back it up.
Still, the bill passed the state legislature with bipartisan support. Fortunately, DeSantis made the difficult decision to go against his party when he vetoed the bill.
As a conservative, DeSantis should be in favor of the current net metering deal, which is tied directly to market prices.
Net metering is an innovation that free market proponents should champion because it uses markets to monetize electricity that would otherwise be wasted, thereby increasing the economic and environmental efficiency of the grid. Florida politicians rightly tout the freedoms it provides and allowing residents to capitalize on the natural gift of sunlight is the ultimate freedom.
Outside of utility company claims behind the effort, there’s little evidence that net metering actually imposes significant costs on non-solar customers, a fact DeSantis mentioned in his veto letter. His short-term concern is that it would put additional economic pressure on Floridians as they experience runaway inflation.
By vetoing the bill, DeSantis also saved many jobs in Florida’s booming solar industry.
According to a 2021 report by Conservatives for Clean Energy Florida, the rooftop solar industry supports 40,462 jobs and contributes $18.3 billion to the state’s economy on an annual basis. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Florida is ranked third in the nation in terms of solar energy capacity, just behind California and Texas.
Florida’s solar industry is thriving, but it must continue to grow rapidly if our country is to meet its decarbonization goals. Due to our location, size, and population, Florida should encourage solar energy, especially through market-based programs such as net metering. Governor DeSantis has embraced clean energy innovation over partisanship, and Florida will be better off for it.
Logan Luse is the Florida State Director at the American Conservation Coalition (ACC). He lives in Melbourne.
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