VoteNoOn4

A review of Florida Constitutional Amendment 4 — Solar Devices by James Lampe

As you consider your vote remember this is a Constitutional Amendment, and once passed the chances of changing it are slim and none.  Before we change the Constitution, shouldn’t the Amendment be clearly beneficial to most Floridians?  Unfortunately, the vast majority of Floridians will be hurt if Amendment 4 is passed.  The Amendment will raise electric rates and ad valorem taxes.  Vote NO on this Amendment.

amendment 4 ballot language

Summary:  This Amendment will exempt solar devices installed on homes or businesses from ad valorem taxes, until 12-31-2037.

First of all, homeowners who install Solar-Electric systems already get a 30% federal tax break!

This financial assistance from the federal government, has been around for years.  Secondly, Florida state government has helped by exempting “solar energy systems or any component thereof” from sales tax.  And now we have this amendment, a third gilded gift to prop-up the failing solar industry.

Nonetheless, let’s see how many people this Amendment will help.  A review of the US Census Fact Finder data on the table below, shows that 30% (2,166,215) of all Floridians live in “Rental Occupied” units, and therefore, no-one in that group would invest in solar-electric systems.  As shown in the “Owner-occupied” category, that leaves 4,986,629 potential customers.

amendment 4 survey

In addition, even if you own a house you may not be able to afford to invest in a solar-electric system.  People who own lower valued housing units valued at $50,000-$150,000, are not likely to invest $30,000 (cost estimate to buy, install, and connect a solar-electric system to the electric grid) for solar system.  So of the 4,986,629 total housing units, we can subtract 1,593,957 for the lower valued houses.  That gives 3,392,697 as the remaining moderate to higher priced housing units that would be the target market for solar-electric systems.

However, there are about 1,000,000 condominiums in Florida, whose owners would also be prevented/impeded from modifying or otherwise changing their common roofs, so the total possible number of housing units for solar falls to 2,392,697, or ~34% of all housing units.

With only ~34% of housing units available for solar-electric systems, how can this Amendment be considered fair?  Worse yet, many snow-birds and residents have mobile homes that are included the housing units, but there is no itemized number for them.  So the 34%, would be even lower if mobile home units were subtracted from the total number of units.

florida solar amendment

In 2015, the Nevada PUC changed the rules for “net metering,” which allows homeowners to sell their excess solar generated electricity to their utility at retail rather than wholesale rates.  But because that arrangement was too costly, the PUC changed the rule.

The Nevada scenario seems like a no brainer, but apparently there was enough grant money to make up for the losses, until one day when the math didn’t work, and the people in Nevada realized that the more electric generated by solar, the less profits the utilities collect.  The utilities need profit to pay staff to restore power after storms, sustain street lighting, and maintain the electric grid, etc.  In addition, utilities work on economies of scale, and their efficiency is reduced when customers convert to solar, because it costs more to generate a KW of electricity.

This Amendment is an obvious attempt by state bureaucrats to boost the heavily subsidized, yet nearly bankrupt solar industry.  It’s not fair or prudent, to let the state pick winners and losers in a free market economy, and we should not let this cronyism go unnoticed.

Vote NO on Amendment 4.

1 reply
  1. Laura Marcusa
    Laura Marcusa says:

    A recently installed solar on my three bedroom home in Englewood FL for an out of pocket cost of $17,000. and a one time tax credit of approx. $5000. So your estimate of $30,000. is a bit out of whack for the average home.
    Also, by using my solar I am saving all Floridians, including myself as I use some FPL power evenings and cloudy times from having to build new generating facilities at a cost of millions of dollars. I am already enrolled in their energy saver plan for all my devices which operates on peak demand plan.
    Solar is available and democratic as the sunshine in the state of Florida. Please reconsider your article and the money you are using as costs to the tax payer.

    Reply

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