This makes solar a smart investment for businesses, which will be guaranteed the same tax fairness that homeowners have when they go solar. It ensures that property tax bills do not go up simply because they add solar panels. This tax protection will begin in 2018 and continue for 20 years.
This common-sense idea drew broad, bipartisan support from the beginning, and thanks to the leadership of Sen. Jeff Brandes and fellow bill sponsors Rep. Ray Rodrigues and Rep. Lori Berman, the Florida Legislature voted unanimously to put the amendment on the Aug. 30 primary ballot.
At the polls in August, Florida voters confirmed that cheaper solar appeals to people across the political spectrum; 73 percent of voters approved Amendment 4. The takeaway is clear: Floridians support cleaner, affordable energy choices for all customers, free of tax penalties, which make solar energy a less-expensive option than it would be otherwise.
Our organizations worked together as part of a diverse coalition that included the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Florida Realtors, Florida Conservation Voters, the Solar Energy Industries Association, Advanced Energy Economy, and Vote Solar.
Now that voters overwhelmingly have voiced their support for solar progress, we expect the Legislature to decide quickly to implement Amendment 4. That process is off to a strong start, after Brandes passed Senate Bill 90 out of its first committee meeting on Tuesday. SB 90 fills in the details of how the new tax protections for solar customers will work. We are optimistic that this bill will pass in the 2017 legislative session.
This legislation not only will lower the cost of solar energy in Florida; it will send a strong signal to companies interested in solar options that the Sunshine State is open for business. There are more than 450 solar companies in Florida employing more than 6,500 people. Those are good local jobs that cannot be outsourced — and we need more of them. Despite Florida’s sunny reputation, the state ranked 17th in total installed solar capacity nationwide, but we are optimistic that Amendment 4 will help Florida climb closer to the top.
We look forward to working with the Legislature to deliver on the promise of Amendment 4 and bring more affordable energy choices, local jobs and a healthy environment for all those who live in and visit Florida.
Randy Miller is president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. Temperince Morgan is executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Florida.