Florida’s solar Amendment 4 passed with brilliant colors Tuesday. With only 60 percent needed to pass, the measure’s overwhelming support suggests, perhaps, a new direction for solar in the Sunshine State, a relatively untapped source of energy.
“It should not be punishable for you to try and do something more energy efficient,” said Carlos Sanchez outside his polling place at St. Augustine Catholic Church where he voted in favor of Amendment 4. “[The government] should be looking instead at what you’re saving and the environmental factors of it.”
Amendment 4 prevents solar panels from being counted towards a home's or business’ property value. That, in turn, means there will be no subsequent property tax hike because of the addition of solar panels. It also gives tax relief for solar leasing companies that will no longer have to pay tangible personal property tax on solar equipment it provides to individuals.
Homeowners already get a solar panel exemption. The new exemptions will take effect Jan 1, 2018 and expires on Dec 31, 2037.
A big question still remains, however: how the state will vote on the utility-backed solar Amendment 1 in November. While Amendment 4 had overwhelming support from across the spectrum of social and political groups, Amendment 1 has pitted traditional environmental groups against consumer choice organizations and utilities. The campaign for Amendment 4 brought in roughly $91,000 to Amendment 1’s more than $19 million and counting,
Solar power is certainly growing in Florida. Florida Power & Light plans to bring three new large-scale power plants on line by the end of the year, roughly doubling the state’s solar capacity, according to the company. Amendment 1 in part, raises the question of who will most easily lead solar expansion in the state, consumers or utilities.
Activists concerned about the wording of Amendment 1 are worried people who want to support solar, including those who voted yes on 4, will automatically vote yes on 1 while not actually understanding what the amendment actually does. You can read more about Amendment 1 here.