A bill that would effectively end subsidies for rooftop solar panels on homes in Florida is on its way to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk to be signed or vetoed.
Both chambers of the Florida Legislature approved of HB 741 on March 7. The bill, according to NBC-affiliated WFLA, was reportedly written and supported by lobbyists with Florida Power & Light. It states public utilities will develop a standardized agreement and net metering program for customer-owned or leased renewable energy generation.
Net metering is how customers with renewable generation systems like solar panels can buy or sell electricity to utilities. HB 741, as it’s written, would reduce payments to solar customers. Between Jan. 1, 2024 and Dec. 31, 2025, customers’ energy bills would be offset by 75% of the amount credited. Residents on net metering would see that reduced to 60% in 2026, and from 2027 to 2028, that would be further reduced to 50%. The current bill states public utilities would create net metering programs by Jan. 1, 2024.
The bill would also allow public utilities to petition for "any combination of fixed charges," including for grid connected solar, beginning 2026. The language does not set a limit on these fixed charges.
Supporters of the bill argue that the changes would ensure those who cannot afford solar are not shouldering high electricity costs on behalf of their wealthier neighbors.
“We are pleased Florida lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to pass bi-partisan legislation aimed at modernizing the state’s outdated net metering rules,” a Florida Power & Light spokesman told E&E News. “It importantly directs the Florida Public Service Commission to phase out this regressive tax and make solar energy more equitable for all Floridians, not just the fortunate few.”
Critics of the bill, including Democratic gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist, say the legislation restricts Floridians from tapping into the power of the sun to power their homes. Solar adoption in Florida is at less than 1%. In contrast, roughly 9% of of California's total households have solar panels.
“There’s been a tremendous increase in the number of Florida home owners who want to put solar panels on their roofs in recent years. And for good reason. Homeowners want to reduce their monthly electric bills,” Crist said in December.