A new bill in Florida’s legislature could radically alter solar net metering policies. Here’s what homeowners need to know.
The Florida legislature is considering a bill to step down the state’s Net Metering program, which is a major benefit to homeowners who go solar. The bill was introduced in November, and calls for a new billing structure that is equitable for solar and non-solar customers, although there are no details of such a new structure included in the bill.
The bill is currently in front of three different committees as of December 13, with both branches of the legislature under recess until mid-January. It is unclear at this point whether the bill is likely to pass, or even come to a vote.
We’ll continue to update this post with more information as this proposal moves through the legislative process.
Update: December 20, 2021
The Miami Herald reported today that the bill to step back net metering benefits in Florida was drafted by Florida Power & Light and its lobbyists and introduced by state senator Jennifer Bradley, who received a sizable political contribution from FPL shortly after.
Although it is not surprising to see FPL acting to undercut net metering – the Herald describes this effort as the utility’s “top priority” – it is still unclear how much support the bill will receive and where it ranks in the legislative agenda of Florida’s Senate and House.
Florida State Representative Lawrence McClure, who introduced an identical bill into the House a week after Bradley introduced hers in the Senate, tempered expectations for the bill and its impact in comments to the Herald, conceding that the bill “is not baked.”
“I think it has a real chance to settle out in a way that most parties are not upset,’’ McClure said. “We need to have the debate. I’m not afraid if the conclusion is it’s not the time to do this.”
On November 22, Florida State Senator Jennifer Bradley introduced a bill to fundamentally change the state’s current net metering policy.
SB 1024 would require the Florida Public Service Commission to recommend a new billing structure that “continue[s] the development of renewable energy resources in this state in a manner that is fair and equitable to all public utility customers,” based on the idea that non-solar utility customers are subsidizing solar customers.
This is a common misconception, according to researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University. Their study of how new solar developments would impact utility customers found “a neutral or net-positive value of solar” to homeowners,” even without considering the additional benefits of carbon emission reduction, job creation, and more.
Realistically, there’s no way to forecast this bill’s chance to become law It was referred to the committees on Regulated Industries, Community Affairs (of which Bradley is the Chairperson) and Rules on December 13, 2021 for further refinement and consideration.
The Senate is out of session until January 11, 2022 and there are no agendas available for those committees’ meetings in the next session yet. There is also an identical bill in the State’s House of Representatives (HB 741) that was referred to three different House committees on December 13, 2021. The House also will not reconvene until January 11, 2022.
Right now, there isn’t a reason to change your plans regarding going solar in Florida. At this point, you’ll still be grandfathered into whatever net metering billing structure your utility offers if you continue on with your current plans provided your system is interconnected by January 1, 2023 if the bill were to pass.