Florida Utilities Lobbied To Make It Illegal For Solar Users To Use Panels In Wake Of Hurricanes, Outages
from the sorry,-progress-is-illegal dept
You may have noticed that the shift to solar is happening whether traditional utilities like it or not, and attempting to stop solar’s forward momentum is akin to believing you can thwart the Mississippi with a fork and a few copies of Mad Magazine. Said futility clearly hasn’t discouraged Florida utilities, who have gone to numerous, highly-creative lengths to try and hinder or curtail solar use. When last we checked in with legacy Florida utilities, they were busy using entirely fake consumer groups to push a law that professed to help the solar industry while actually undermining it.
Fortunately Florida consumers ultimately saw through this effort, though this was just one of a steady stream of similar bills aimed at stalling progress. Many Florida Power and Light customers obviously lost power in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, despite promises by the company that endless rate hikes would help harden the utilities’ lines. But customers thinking they could use the solar panels on their roofs to help keep themselves afloat until traditional power was restored were in for a rude awakening.
Thanks to the fact that Florida utility lobbyists are being allowed to quite literally write the state’s energy laws, many locals discovered they weren’t able to use their solar panels in the wake of the storm lest they violate state law:
“FPL’s lobbying wing has fought hard against letting Floridians power their own homes with solar panels. Thanks to power-company rules, it’s impossible across Florida to simply buy a solar panel and power your individual home with it. You are instead legally mandated to connect your panels to your local electric grid. More egregious, FPL mandates that if the power goes out, your solar-power system must power down along with the rest of the grid, robbing potentially needy people of power during major outages.
In the broadband industry, we consistently let giant incumbents like Comcast and AT&T write shitty protectionist state laws — then stand around with a dumb look on our collective faces wondering why U.S. broadband is shitty and expensive. The same problem plagues the utility sector across countless states. In Florida, the average household spends $1,900 a year on power, 40% higher than the national average. Yet incentives or other measures designed to spur solar power adoption are either absent or illegal, in large part thanks to utility lobbying.
Needless to say, Irma appears to be acting as a wake up call to Florida utility customers unfamiliar with how the American lobbying and political system actually works:
Another reader emailed me complaining her daughter's utility wouldn't let her & her 8 y/o son power their home with solar panels after Irma pic.twitter.com/eYQIYHlEej
— Jerry Iannelli (@jerryiannelli) September 14, 2017
The problem, again, is that legacy companies across numerous sectors are very effective at using partisan patty cake to convince consumers to root against their own best self interests. That’s why Florida, a state perfectly suited to take advantage of solar power, remains well behind the curve when it comes to solar adoption. And again, that’s courtesy of folks like State Representative Ray Rodrigues, who takes notable campaign contributions from utilities like FPL, then consistently fields bills that profess to aid the solar revolution while covertly sabotaging what should be the obvious path forward.