Support For Florida Solar Amendment Falters

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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New polling suggests Florida’s solar power constitutional amendment may not get enough votes to be enacted.

A new poll published Monday by Saint Leo University found that about 59 percent of voters support the proposed amendment, down from 84 percent last month and 81 percent in August. The measure would have to win 60 percent of the vote to become law due to a provision in the state constitution.

“This movement away from support for Amendment 1 is a sign that the social media campaign is working,” Frank Orlando, political scientist and director of the polling at Saint Leo, said in a statement. “Opponents of Amendment 1 clearly don’t have the financial power that the utility companies do, but they’ve been very effective at getting their message out via forums like Facebook.”

The poll had a margin of error of three percentage points. It was conducted online from Oct. 22-26 among 1,028 likely voters.

Several Florida media outlets have opposed the measure including the Tampa Bay Times, The Miami Herald, and the Orlando Sentinel. Amendment 1 was previously in an epic duel with another pro-solar ballot measure, which much of the media supported. However, the other measure failed to get on the ballot.

Amendment 1 allows residents to own or lease equipment that produces solar energy for personal use. Their proposed amendment would ensure that residents who don’t produce solar energy don’t have to subsidize the extra costs solar imposes on the electric grid. Electric utility companies heavily support Amendment 1.

Rooftop solar is already heavily subsidized by the already existing 30 percent federal tax credit for home solar panels. Solar and wind power have been heavily subsidized since at least the 1970s. Solar and wind power get 326 and 69 times more in subsidies than coal, oil, and natural gas per amount of energy generated, according to  2013 Department of Energy data collected by Forbes.

Wind power alone received $5 billion in subsidies in 2010 while and solar received $1.13 million — oil and natural gas only got $654 million in subsidies during those years. Last year, wind and solar power only accounted for 4.7 and 0.6 percent of all electricity generated in America respectively, according to data from the federal Energy Information Administration.

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