Solar Activists: Progress? Yes. Sunshine State? No

Dec 1, 2016

The nation’s largest solar panel installer is setting up shop in Orlando, but activists say Florida has a way to go before earning the nickname “Sunshine State.” 

Solar City, the nation's largest installer of solar panels, is opening an operations center in Orlando after Florida voters twice showed overwhelming support for alternative energy.

Solar City executives say the defeat of a utility backed solar amendment last month strengthened their resolve to open the operations center in Central Florida. The company previously said Florida’s tax structure was one of the biggest reasons it avoided the state.

Voters removed that hurdle in August when they passed a renewable energy tax cut. Environment Florida director Jennifer Rubiello says despite the latest progress, her group’s latest report shows solar power still has powerful opposition.

“In fact, four Florida utilities made the list as four of the entities nationwide working most aggressively to block solar power. So that’s Gulf Power, TECO, Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light.”

Utilities poured millions of dollars into the Amendment 1 campaign, billing it as pro-solar while critics called it a back door attempt to raise rates for solar customers. The same utility companies point to their massive solar farms as proof of their commitment to alternative energy.