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Let the Sunshine In!

There are 2 solar power amendments in our upcoming elections. One is good, the other one is BS. We need to know the difference.

First the good! Amendment 4 will be on the ballot in our primary (August) election.
This vote on solar energy should be an easy one. Amendment 4 on your primary election ballot would exempt from property taxes the value of renewal-energy equipment such as solar panels installed by homeowners and businesses. We recommend you vote "yes."
If the owners of a $200,000 house installed $20,000 worth of solar panels and other equipment, they would not be reassessed and have to pay taxes on a $220,000 property. If the owner of a $1 million commercial building installed $100,000 worth of solar panels and fuel cells, the owner would not have to pay taxes on $1.2 million or raise the rent -- as is the case in Florida now..
Homeowners already get a similar break, which has helped many Floridians and hurt none. The amendment would extend the tax exemptions to business and ensure the breaks for everyone for 20 years, starting in 2018.
It's a straightforward  concept, put on the ballot by the Florida Legislature.
Amendment 4 has been studied and endorsed by organizations of all kinds: the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Nature Conservancy, Christian Coalition, AFL-CIO, Florida Realtors, Progress Florida, Conservatives for Energy Freedom, the Sierra Club and the League of Women Voters. How often does that happen?
And now the big sucks. Amendment 1 will be on the ballot in our general (November) election.
So much for Florida’s rooftop solar movement.
In November, when Floridians see “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice” on the ballot, they’ll probably assume they’re voting on that solar power amendment that’s been in the news for the past year.
You know, the one that promises to free up consumers to lease solar panels with limited upfront costs. The one that would allow shopping centers to install rooftop solar panels and sell the electricity to tenants in the complex. The one that: “Limits or prevents government and electric utility imposed barriers to supplying local solar electricity.” The one associated with the “Floridians for Solar Choice,” a coalition of environmental groups, libertarians and solar industry entrepreneurs.
Undoubtedly, a substantial hunk of the voters will assume just that. And they’ll be wrong. Floridians for Solar Choice failed to gather the necessary number of verified signatures by the Feb. 1 deadline to get its amendment on the 2016 ballot.
But last week, the Florida Supreme Court — by a one vote margin — approved a cleverly worded amendment proposal that also sounds pro-solar. After all, it would guarantee consumers “the right to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use.”
Of course, that’s a right Floridians already enjoy. But the amendment would also insure “that consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do.”
That judgment would be left to the utility monopolies and their minions on the Public Service Commission, none of whom can abide the notion of independent electricity producers cutting into utility profits. That phrase, which reads almost like an afterthought, would provide utilities and the PSC the means to undo the business plan that has propelled rooftop solar in less regressive states.
So let's make this easy: Yes on 4 in August. No on 1 in November. And let the sunshine in!

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