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Defending Rooftop Solar Customers in Florida

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

What’s at Stake

The flawed policy by Florida’s largest municipal electric utility significantly reduces the value of rooftop solar and roughly doubles the amount of time a solar customer can recoup the cost of their investment — from 10 years to 20 years.

True “net metering,” with fair compensation, is one of the few pro-solar policies in effect in Florida and is essential for rooftop solar to expand.

Overview

On behalf of the League of Women Voters of Florida and Solar United Neighbors, Earthjustice has filed a legal challenge in state Circuit Court against JEA, Florida’s largest municipal electric utility, because it is violating state law by short-changing customers who want to use rooftop solar energy.

Solar United Neighbors had to abandon plans for a solar co-op in JEA’s territory because the utility’s new policy makes the project financially unfeasible.

Under a policy that went into effect on April 1, 2018, JEA claims to be implementing “net metering” — but is actually not doing so. “net metering” is the system utilities like JEA use to compensate solar owners for the excess electricity they produce — and is required by state law. Solar customers are supposed to be able to offset their energy consumption from the grid by lowering their bill by the exact amount of energy they produce. For example, if solar homeowners use 850 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in a month — and they produce 400 kWh of electricity from their solar panels, their total electric bill (the net) should be for 450 kWh of electricity. JEA no longer wants to do that.

JEA’s flawed policy significantly reduces the value of rooftop solar and roughly doubles the amount of time a solar customer can recoup the cost of their investment — from 10 years to 20 years.

While interest in and adoption of rooftop solar is rapidly growing in the state, Florida remains behind other states. True “net metering,” with fair compensation, is one of the few pro-solar policies in effect in Florida and is essential for rooftop solar to expand. 

Case Updates

April 18, 2018 | Legal Document

JEA Electric Utility Complaint

This is an action for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief challenging the legality of JEA’s Distributed Energy Policy, effective April 1, 2018, (“JEA’s Energy Policy”), attached hereto as Exhibit A, which fails to provide a net metering program as required by Florida law. Plaintiffs Community Power Network Corporation (d/b/a Solar United Neighbors) and the League of Women Voters of Florida, Inc., sue Defendant JEA, a Florida municipal electric utility, to enforce state law and to prevent the destruction of rooftop solar expansion in the Jacksonville area. Plaintiffs seek a declaration from the Court that JEA’s Energy Policy violates Florida law and an injunction directing JEA to provide a net metering program.