On Friday, Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., signed into law a bill to implement pro-solar Amendment 4, which Florida voters overwhelmingly passed on the August 2016 primary ballot after solar advocates launched a large grassroots campaign.
The implementation bill, S.B.90, recently passed both chambers of the Florida state legislature unanimously. According to the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), the bill reduces burdensome state taxes on residential and commercial solar installations by exempting 80% of their value from the tangible personal property tax. It also exempts 80% of the value of a solar installation from the assessment of real property taxes for commercial properties; a 100% exemption already exists for residential properties, SACE notes.
“Broad support from conservatives, the business community, the solar industry, and environmental organizations brought together volunteers, an array of elected officials and everyone in between, in a truly non-partisan effort to bring pro solar Amendment 4 into law,” says Susan Glickman, SACE’s Florida director.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) adds that S.B.90 also includes consumer protections strongly supported by the solar organization.
“This legislation will help Florida take its rightful place as a solar star,” says Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “The state’s market doubled last year, and we expect this new law will help Florida become one of the top five solar states in short order. We are particularly enthusiastic about the strong consumer protections in the legislation that provide transparency to customers and clear rules of the road for solar installers. We thank Governor Scott, Senator Brandes and Majority Leader Rodrigues for their leadership on solar and support for our industry’s growth.”
State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, says that by signing S.B.90 into law, Scott has “answered the will of the voters.” Brandes adds, “I look forward to continuing our work to diversify Florida’s energy economy so we can live up to our title as the Sunshine State and lead in renewable energy.”
State House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, says, “I am proud this legislation will move Florida closer to being a leading state for new solar jobs. We were able to pass a balanced bill that will boost solar in Florida while ensuring customers are protected, thanks to constructive input from groups like Vote Solar and Solar Energy Industry Association, who helped get this important legislation over this finish line.”
“Governor Scott’s approval comes on the heels of overwhelming support for solar progress over the last year. In August, nearly three of every four voters embraced the opportunity to move solar forward in the Sunshine State. During the legislative session, every lawmaker, on both sides of the aisle, delivered on that promise,” says Scott Thomasson, Southeast director for Vote Solar. “Governor Scott’s approval signals that Florida is open for businesses, jobs and private investments.”
Amendment 4 wasn’t the only major solar victory achieved through grassroots efforts in Florida last year. After passing that ballot initiative last August, voters also rejected Amendment 1, a utility-backed proposal, in November. A number of rooftop installers, including SolarCity and Vivint Solar, entered the Sunshine State not long after the votes last year, and now Sunrun says it, too, will be expanding into Florida.
Sunrun cites the show of state-level policy support for its decision, and the company says it will start its expansion into Florida by offering services and creating jobs throughout Orlando and Tampa this year.
“There is strong demand for rooftop solar in Florida, so we are thrilled to bring this affordable clean energy solution to homeowners,” says Lynn Jurich, CEO of Sunrun. “Rooftop solar benefits both homeowners choosing to take control of their energy needs and communities by creating new jobs and a cleaner, more robust energy grid.”
According to GTM Research and the SEIA’s U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, Florida’s solar market grew by more than 200% in 2016 while solar jobs surged 25% in the state. Florida is the 12th largest solar market and has the fifth most solar jobs in the country.