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The Sunshine State's Election Day Bright Spot

Solar panels on the roof of the Orlando Science Center.

Solar panels on the roof of the Orlando Science Center.

Jeff Krause / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

On election night, as the country awaited the outcome of the long election race, a clean energy bright spot emerged in one corner of the ballot box: Florida voters put an end to the deceptive, sham solar proposal Amendment 1.

The ballot summary claimed that the amendment would encourage the use of rooftop solar, when in fact, it would have done the opposite. The initiative could have altered the future of solar energy in the state for the worse—but Floridians didn’t take the fight lying down.

Amendment 1, “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice,” promised rights and protections that Florida citizens already have, while also paving the way for barriers to penalize rooftop solar customers. The deceptive amendment was created and funded by the state’s utilities to allow them to hold on to their business monopolies at the expense of consumers.

The utilities already have a monopoly on fossil fuel power, and they now sought to extend that monopoly to energy from the sun itself.

Early this year, attorneys in Earthjustice's Florida office went to court on behalf of the citizens' groups Progress Florida, Environment Florida and Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida to stop the disingenuous amendment from being placed on the ballot.

In a 4–3 decision issued in March, the Florida Supreme Court narrowly ruled to allow the amendment onto the ballot. Justice Barbara J. Pariente did not mince words in her scathing dissent: "This ballot initiative is the proverbial 'wolf in sheep's clothing.'”

So the battle for solar headed to the ballot box:

A strong outreach campaign to educate the public, along with the actions of informed voters—including thousands of Earthjustice supporters across Florida—finally sent the misguided amendment packing.

Since it would have amended the state Constitution, Amendment 1 required a 60 percent majority vote to pass. As Election Day came to a close, it became apparent that many Floridians had seen through the utilities’ ruse.

By the time all precincts reported in, it was clear that the amendment had failed, garnering only 51 percent of the statewide vote. As Tania Galloni, managing attorney of Earthjustice's Florida office put it late Tuesday night, “Florida voters weren’t fooled. This is a win for Floridians, who deserve a healthy market for affordable solar power in Florida.” Thank you to all who voted and worked to stop Amendment 1 and stand up for clean energy.

Our work to accelerate the transition to a cleaner energy economy and to stave off the worst effects of climate change will continue to be filled with challenges in the days ahead. Underhanded tricks, such as Amendment 1, by backward-thinking actors will continue. But they are fighting a losing battle.

Earthjustice is standing alongside you—in Florida and every other state—to beat back the worst proposals that would dismantle the rise of clean energy. We will defend and advance all of our hard-fought gains.

As the defeat of Amendment 1 demonstrated, by working together, we can forge a better, more just energy future for all.

Learn about our Florida office's work on the sewage, manure and fertilizer pollution that fuels toxic algae blooms, pollution from the phosphate industry, and more. And, learn about our work using the power of the law to move our nation into the sustainable energy future.

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Tags:  Clean Energy, Solar