The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) has long been active and engaged on energy policy in Florida. Presently we are carefully evaluating the pros and cons of the proposed Energy Choice ballot amendment and are in communication with both the sponsors of the amendment and Florida’s investor-owned utilities which oppose it.
While SACE considers our position on the amendment, and acknowledges there are concerns about the proposal, we believe the concepts of customer choice, competition, and markets are worthy of serious consideration and that this vital discussion should be held in an open and transparent manner.
Because this ballot initiative is not self-implementing, if it passed it would require the legislature to enact the initiative. This leaves many unanswered questions about the details of the measure and the potential impacts if it were to pass.
There are also legitimate concerns about whether changes to the state’s energy policy are best done through constitutional amendments or rather through the legislative process. Given the heavy influence of monopoly utilities on the process in Tallahassee, we acknowledge and understand the desire to elevate these issues for public consideration through other channels.
“SACE is carefully reviewing this proposed ballot as long-time advocates for fair and just energy policy developed in an open and transparent manner,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “We do have concerns that Florida utilities appear to be using a well-worn playbook: assembling a team of hired guns and funding a front group to promote their position. The newly-launched Floridians for Affordable Reliable Energy (FARE) smells a lot like Consumers for Smart Solar, a discredited utility-funded front group that promoted the utility-backed solar amendment in 2016. The launch of FARE suggests that the utilities are continuing to rely on paid spokespeople and campaign operatives rather than subject-matter experts who are needed to provide much-needed information rather than slogans and clever campaigns.”
The Energy Choice initiative has a long way to go in the citizen-led ballot process, ie Florida Supreme Court review and thousands more petitions to be gathered, therefore there is no guarantee voters will even see it on the ballot in 2020. However it is essential that responsible energy policy is crafted openly and through robust debate with transparency among all stakeholders and their interests clearly identified.
SACE is analyzing with granular detail how this proposal would impact renewable energy markets, energy efficiency, and consumer protections in Florida, and whether this proposal is in the best interests of Floridians or whether a different approach could result in the outcomes we seek. We will continue to track this ballot amendment and provide updates as available.
About the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Since 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has worked to promote responsible energy choices to ensure clean, safe and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at www.cleanenergy.org.