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Pensacola News Journal: Florida Should Lead in Solar Production

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Pensacola 9:49 a.m. CDT June 26, 2016

Being known worldwide as the Sunshine State, it just makes sense for Florida to lead in the production of solar energy. This abundant energy source provides a crucial and important option for consumers of energy, which includes every resident and business in the state.

This year, the Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation that will give voters the opportunity to clear the way for more solar energy in our state. The issue will appear as Amendment 4 on the August 2016 primary election ballot.

Amendment 4 has strong support from diverse interests including statewide business associations, environmental groups, faith based organizations, and many others who want more competitive and affordable solar options for our state. I’ve often referred to this bipartisan issue as bringing the Baptists and the Bootleggers together under one umbrella to expand solar access in Florida.

This will be the first time many Florida voters will see a constitutional amendment on the primary ballot, so we are working hard to educate Floridians to make sure everyone understands exactly what this ballot amendment will do for our consumers, our economy, and our state.

Commercial solar installations – solar projects for businesses, schools, communities and many homes are currently subject to an onerous property tax. Amendment 4 will expand an exemption that currently exists in law for residential properties to these commercial customers that choose to install solar.

The passage of Amendment 4 will spur tremendous investments in renewable energy without picking winners and losers or using subsidies.

With the passage of Amendment 4 on the Aug. 30 ballot, Florida will have an increasingly diverse energy supply, and solar will be more affordable. Additionally, the passage of this amendment will boost private investment in our local economy and jobs, adding to the thousands of people who currently work in the solar industry here in Florida.

A “yes” vote on Amendment 4 will also help keep Florida a healthy place for families and improve the resilience of our communities. This amendment will help preserve the environment for future generations by expanding the use of clean renewable energy.

The great news is that everyone will have the opportunity to vote on this amendment, regardless of their political affiliation. If you are registered to vote, you can support this important issue by voting early, absentee or at the polls on Aug. 30, 2016.

Like most constitutional ballot amendments, the wording is complex but the effect is simple: more solar, more jobs, and more affordable energy options. We must pass this amendment to ensure Florida maximizes its opportunity to take advantage of our abundant sunshine.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please visit We look forward to earning your support and with your vote we can continue to broaden Florida’s use of solar energy.

State Sen. Jeffrey Brandes (R-7) lives in St. Petersburg.

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