Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have reduced the benefits homeowners and businesses receive from installing solar and allow public utilities to levy additional charges.
House Bill 741 would have developed a standardized agreement and net metering program for customer-owned or leased renewable energy generation. The bill would have reduced the amount of credits given to consumers from 2024 to 2028.
“This is something that both roofing contractors and solar contractors are watching closely, because without those incentives, it makes it more difficult to convince the public to buy into environmentally sound options like solar,” Trent Cotney, partner at Adams and Reese, told RC.
In a veto letter, DeSantis said the U.S. is “experiencing its worst inflation in 40 years” and that consumers are seeing steep cost increases in gas, groceries and bills.
“The State of Florida should not contribute to the financial crunch that our citizens are experiencing,” DeSantis wrote.
HB 741 would allow public utilities to impose additional charges to recover lost revenues resulting from residential solar generation that exceeds the public’s utility estimate.
“The amount that may be recovered under this provision is speculative and would be borne by all customers,” DeSantis wrote.
Supporters of HB 741 said the changes would ensure those who cannot afford solar aren't taking on high electricity costs on behalf of wealthier neighbors. The bill faced criticism from solar advocates, including how it was supported by lobbyists with utility companies like Florida Power & Light.
“Florida is one of the fastest-growing solar markets in the country with new businesses popping up all across the state,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “This veto signals that Florida’s energy economy is open for business, and that the rights of state residents should be placed ahead of monopoly utility interests.”
Rep. Lawrence McClure, the House sponsor of the bill, told the Tampa Bay Times that he understood the veto given the different economic conditions the country finds itself in compared to earlier this year. He said he expects legislators to revise the bill and return with a different version. This is the third time Florida Power & Light has attempted to pass a version of a net-metering bill, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“We know that rooftop solar is going to continue to grow in Florida. I embrace that and am a huge fan of that,” McClure said. “Net metering is not a sustainable solution from an economic perspective, so we need to get where we get the benefit of rooftop solar, and also get the economics right.”
Although this is a win for the solar industry in Florida, Cotney said this issue pops up nearly every legislation cycle. He didn’t anticipate it appearing in other states, especially as renewable and sustainable energy options are more widely considered in light of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“Just continue to fight the good fight,” Cotney said. “I do think, to a certain extent, this will be isolated to Florida, it is a state-by-state type issue.”