UPDATE: DeSantis vetoes proposed net metering restrictions in surprise move
Update 4/27/22: After weeks of suspense and speculation, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed the anti-net metering legislation, meaning it will not go into effect. DeSantis stated that the bill would “contribute to the financial crunch that our citizens are experiencing.” Obviously, we’re pleased that the value proposition of solar in Florida homeowners will be preserved, and that homeowners considering going solar in the Sunshine State can now move forward with more confidence.
Stay tuned to our blog and social media for more updates on this development.
A new bill in Florida’s legislature could radically alter solar net metering policies. Here’s what homeowners need to know.
On Monday, the Florida Senate passed the anti-net metering legislation by a vote of 24-15. Solar and environmental advocacy groups say they will call for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to veto the bill. A recent poll of Florida voters shows that 84% supported keeping net metering in the state intact.
Barring a surprise veto from DeSantis, the bill will become law.
The past couple of weeks have seen rapid developments in the progress of the anti-net metering legislation in Florida.
On February 1, SB 1024 was approved by the state senate’s rules committee. The following day, the state House of Representatives passed its version of the bill and referred it to the Senate. The legislation, now known as CS/CS/HB 741 after the functionally identical House version was “substituted” for the Senate version, was debated by the Senate on February 4.
During the Senate debate on Friday, Senator Jennifer Bradley, who introduced the utility-written legislation in the Senate, admitted that the “cost shift” caused by residential solar is so small as to be insignificant. This is notable because the argument that some homeowners choosing to go solar causes a shift in costs to non-solar customers is at the heart of the rationale for the legislation’s attack on net metering.
The bill must be read and debated one final time by the Florida Senate prior to a final vote on its passage. When that happens, we’ll update this post, and we’ll be here to help Florida homeowners understand all of the implications of the new policy if it becomes law.
The bill passed the Florida Senate Community Affairs Committee yesterday on a 6-3 vote. The Committee approved some amendments to the bill designed to smooth the potential transition to the proposed new net metering policies, including a step-down process lasting until 2028 and an extension of the “grandfather clause” for existing solar customers. Homeowners with solar systems operational on January 1, 2023 would continue to enjoy the benefits of the current net metering policy for 20 years, instead of just 10 as in the initial version of the bill.
The bill now heads to the Senate Rules Committee, the third and final committee where it must be heard before it can go to the floor of the whole Senate for a vote. The state House of Representatives version of the bill has so far been passed through one of three committees it was assigned to in that chamber.
Update: January 12, 2022
At the end of business yesterday, the Florida Senate’s Regulated Industries Committee released a Committee Substitute, or a rewrite, of the bill.
The revised bill says that energy delivered by the utility must be purchased by consumers at the full retail rate, but homeowners will only receive the utility’s much lower cost of avoided generation for the energy produced by their solar systems. and energy produced by the customer must be purchased at the avoided cost of power rate.
The revised grandfather clause allows customers who own or lease their solar systems by January 1, 2023 to continue to utilize their current net metering policy for 10 years. The revision also extends the grandfathering provision to those who purchase or lease property with an existing solar installation that falls under the old net metering policy.
Perhaps the biggest change in the committee revision is that if the utility wants to change their net metering policy after this bill goes into effect, they will have to go through the Florida Public Service Commission and demonstrate the impact of net metering on their revenue and cost of service.
The new version of the bill was advanced by the Regulated Industries Committee by a vote of 6-2, although some of the legislators who voted in favor said that more input from stakeholders was still required and they might vote against the final bill if a compromise can’t be reached. The bill next heads to the Community Affairs Committee.
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.