Florida Ballot Initiative Allowing Third-Party Sale of Solar Electricity Passes Major Legal Hurdle

November 2015

The Florida Supreme Court approved language for a ballot initiative seeking to allow third-party sale of solar electricity. Led by Floridians for Solar Choice, the initiative must now collect 683,149 certified signatures by February 1, 2016 in order to appear on the November 2016 ballot.

Key Details

  • Florida law currently prohibits customers from buying electricity from an entity other than the electric utility
  • In 2014, Florida ranked third in retail electricity sales, with more than 50% of sales being in the residential sector, yet solar development lags other parts of the nation
  • With the emergence of non-utility models for solar, such as third-party leasing and community solar, the solar industry is pushing to open the market for direct sales of electricity
  • The ballot initiative would allow (1) consumers to purchase solar electricity from third-party providers (e.g., SolarCity) and (2) solar system owners sell excess power to neighbors
  • The ballot initiative has collected 208,052 certified signatures, representing 30% of the requirement to appear on the November 2016 ballot
  • However, the emergence of a competing solar ballot initiative, supporting existing solar policy, is beginning to create confusion among voters
  • Constitutional amendments making the ballot must obtain 60% of the vote to pass

Implications

A change in state policy would likely result in significant changes to the solar model in Florida and open the market to competitive providers. Third-party solar providers would be attracted to a good solar resource and large electricity market. Third-party sale of electricity would call into question some fundamental tenets of the traditional utility regulatory compact, such as universal service, obligation to serve, and exclusive franchise service territory.

More Information

LA Times: Aggressive Rooftop Solar Proposal Clears Key Legal Hurdle

Orlando Sentinel: What to Know about Florida’s Solar Fight

FL Department of State Division of Elections: Limits or Prevents Barriers to Local Solar Electricity Supply

This report is part of the Clean Tech & Sustainability Minute series. To view all featured Minutes, please click here.

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Contributing Authors

Paul Quinlan Clean Tech Manager

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