By Don Coble
Jennifer Bradley has a problem with some of the shady reporting about her bill to end solar power payback programs.
The State Senator (R-District 5) from Fleming Island was criticized for proposing a bill to end the practice of residents with rooftop solar power units being allowed to sell back unused electricity at retail prices.
Media outlets who’ve been critical of Florida Power and Light drew Bradley into their investigation after her political action committee received a $10,000 donation from FPL’s parent company NextEra Energy.
The connection, she said, is misleading.
Bradley said power companies initially offered incentives to jumpstart solar energy by buying back electricity from the grid for those who supplement their needs with rooftop panels.
Millions of residents took advantage of the program – not only for the financial benefits but to become more energy efficient.
However, most states have ended the program because it shifts operational costs to those who can’t or don’t have solar power.
“What people don’t understand is 70% of the costs don’t involve electricity,” Bradley said as she prepared this week for the new legislative session.
Operational costs include construction, equipment, salaries and everything needed to create, collect and deliver electricity.
Florida is one of the few states that still allow net metering. If a customer uses 100 watts and their solar power unit was responsible for 40 watts, they can sell back 60 watts back to FPL at retail prices.
The difference then is absorbed by other customers who don’t have solar panels, Bradley said.
“A lot of the people this affects live in District 5,” she said. “We’re paying for the people who have solar power who live on the beach.”
Bradley said thousands of customers, especially those who live in multi-family units, apartments, condominiums and those with low incomes, aren’t able to install solar power panels. According to roofingcalc.com, the average cost to install a system in Florida ranges from $18,800 to $23,600.
Many states, including California and Nevada, allow customers with rooftop solar power systems to pay for power taken from the grid, minus power created by solar. While those customers pay less, they aren’t able to sell electricity back to the companies.
Most electric companies, however, offer rebates to offset the costs. Companies that serve municipalities and operate as a cooperative already have done away with their buyback programs. That includes Clay Electric, Green Cove Springs and JEA. Other companies, particularly FPL, now want to stop the practice of buying back electricity.
FPL delivered draft language to Bradley’s office and she used some of that information to introduce Senate Bill 1024 which would eliminate an arrangement known as net metering. Some argued the bill would stop …….