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Not Enough Energy For Solar Initiative

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The sun appears to be setting on a solar power ballot initiative, with organizers saying they may not collect enough signatures by a February 1st deadline.

The group behind Floridians For Solar Choice knew any attempt to deregulate renewable energy would draw heavy opposition from monopoly utilities -- and they were right.

But they couldn’t predict a last-minute dispute with a contractor would put 200,000 signatures on hold.  Co-founder Stephen Smith says missing the deadline wouldn’t be the end of the world.

“Anybody who is signing a petition or gathering a petition should know that those petitions do not turn to dust on February 1st 2016, they have a life beyond that.”

The question now, Smith says, is whether to go for 2018, or the 2020 general election, when conditions should be more favorable. But that means starting over again.

Meanwhile, the group behind a utility backed initiative, with what critics say is a suspiciously similar name, are vowing to keep going. With a 6 million-dollar war chest, that could be a long way.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.