FL Senate Measure Seeks to Eliminate Onerous Taxes on the Sun

Susan Glickman | January 21, 2015 | Energy Policy, Solar
Florida State Senator Jeff Brandes just took a big step toward removing a major roadblock to more solar development in the Sunshine State.  He filed a measure that would end burdensome taxes on solar power. The resolution to amend the state constitution would exempt renewable energy devices from the state’s tangible personal property tax. The punitive tax currently increases the cost for power from renewable energy devices, such as solar energy systems. This limits energy choices for Florida’s families and businesses that want to invest in renewable energy.

Additionally, the resolution would exempt the assessed value of renewable energy devices when calculating real estate taxes. The resolution, if passed by both chambers in the state legislature, would place the tax measures on the 2016 general election ballot – where voters will make the ultimate decision.

In a statement, Senator Brandes says  “The Sunshine State should be the leader in solar energy. This legislation is designed to remove barriers to businesses so that they can enter this growing renewable energy market. Reducing burdensome taxes is a key component to fostering the solar energy market in Florida.”

It’s a great idea whose time has come, and I applaud his leadership. It’s refreshing to see a lawmaker stand up for the citizens over the entrenched monopoly utilities – utilities that wield considerable influence in the state Capitol. The tax issue is one key piece of the solar puzzle. The others are protecting the customer’s right to net meter their renewable energy system and ending the restrictive law prohibiting 3rd party sales of electricity.

Florida is one of only 5 states that doesn’t allow competition in energy choices. The Floridians for Solar Choice ballot initiative would allow all Floridians the option to power their homes and businesses with solar power and the choice of who provides it to them. This campaign is also aiming to place solar energy on the ballot in 2016. This diverse coalition of conservatives, business interests and clean energy advocates have come together because year after year, separate efforts to open up the solar market in Florida have been thwarted by monopoly utilities at both the Florida Legislature and the Public Service Commission. Going to the ballot is a necessity because policymakers have not been doing their job, and the people need to have their voices heard.

This year’s legislative session holds the promise of eliminating burdensome taxes on solar power, thanks to leaders like Senator Brandes. Removing burdensome taxes on renewable energy along with allowing Florida’s families and businesses choice in solar power provider could be the 1-2 punch that finally brings solar power home to the Sunshine State!

Susan Glickman
This blog was written by a former staff member of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
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