FACT CHECK #1

CSS meet with the Tallahassee DemocratOn October 21, consultants with Consumers for Smart Solar were interviewed by the Tallahassee Democrat in a Facebook Live event (view the archive recording here) and stated that Florida’s major utilities were not monopolies.

FALSE: Privately owned utilities, also known as investor-owned utilities, or IOUs, are governed by a board of directors elected by stockholders. IOUs are a state-regulated monopoly. They exist to make a profit for their stockholders, while serving the public. Capital is raised through stock sales, taxable bonds and through operating revenues. Five IOUs operate in Florida. They are regulated by the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC). (Source:  Florida Municipal Electric Association, Florida Public Power)

solar-supporters-meet-with-tallahassee-democratThat same morning, Stephen Smith and Candace Munz (members of the #NoOn1 coalition) spoke with editors of the Tallahassee Democrat and was asked whether solar benefits the grid or whether others ‘subsidize’ solar owners — and Steve and Candy declared firmly that solar customers are a net benefit to the grid — and cited a study confirming this fact.

TRUE: The Brookings Institute has a study explaining the benefits that net metering generates for non-solar customers and why unfair fees and discriminatory penalties would erect even more barrier to solar in the Sunshine State. Their conclusion: Solar customers bring more value to the grid than they take away from it.

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On October 19, 2016, when an audio-recording of consultants discussing utility-industry efforts to deceive voters was released by the Miami Herald, Consumers for Smart Solar spokeswoman Sarah Bascom said the political committee backing the amendment “has no knowledge of what JMI is claiming. Nobody from JMI either participated in or was asked to participate in the planning or drafting of our Amendment or campaign efforts, nor do we know the person who made these comments,” said Bascom.

FALSE: The organization backing Amendment 1, Consumers for Smart Solar, published an Amendment Guide for Florida on their Facebook page yesterday just before this story was broken by the Miami Herald.

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On October 10, 2016, Jim Kallinger (with Consumers for Smart Solar) and  Stephen Smith (with Floridians for Solar Choice & Southern Alliance for Clean Energy) engaged in a live debate about Amendment 1 in Naples hosted by the Collier Citizens Council, League of Women Voters of Collier County, Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, Collier County Presidents Council, Greater Naples Better Government Committee, Naples Press Club, Pelican Bay Property Owners Association, East Naples Civic Association, Golden Gate Civic Association and Golden Gate Estates Civic Association.

“Florida Power & Light and the other investor-owned utilities (IOUs) are not monopolies” FALSE: Privately owned utilities, also known as investor-owned utilities, or IOUs, are governed by a board of directors elected by stockholders. IOUs are a state-regulated monopoly. They exist to make a profit for their stockholders, while serving the public. Capital is raised through stock sales, taxable bonds and through operating revenues. Five IOUs operate in Florida. They are regulated by the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC). (Source:  Florida Municipal Electric Association, Florida Public Power)

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On October 5, 2016, during a live discussion about Amendment 1 on WJCT’s First Coast Connect, Melissa Ross spoke with Screven Watson (Consumers for Smart Solar) and  Dr. Stephen A. Smith (Floridians for Solar Choice & Southern Alliance for Clean Energy). Listen to the entire discussion here.

Read what Ballotpedia says about Amendment 1.

“Customers who don’t or can’t choose solar won’t have to continue subsidizing those who have solar.” FALSE: The Brookings Institute has a study explaining the benefits that net metering generates for non-solar customers and why unfair fees and discriminatory penalties would erect even more barrier to solar in the Sunshine State. Their conclusion: Solar customers bring more value to the grid than they take away from it.

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“Amendment 1 is lucky to have the support of the utilities.” TRUE: Florida’s major monopoly utilities have contributed the majority of the $21 million raised for Amendment 1. View the financial records with the Division of Elections here:

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“You already have the right to own and lease solar in Florida.” TRUE: Florida law already permits the ownership and lease of solar energy equipment and devices. There are no new consumer protections. You can read about Florida’s solar laws here.

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“No solar company in the state of Florida is supporting Amendment 1.” TRUE: The Florida Solar Energy Industries Association, and the small solar companies they represent, formally opposes utility-backed Amendment 1.

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“Only one Justice of the Florida Supreme Court opposed Amendment 1.” FALSE: The Florida Supreme Court was split 4-3 in their March 2016 ruling.

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