Solar Advocates File Legal Actions in Florida’s Supreme Court Against Amendment 1

November 2, 2016

 

Contact: Jennifer Rennicks, jennifer@flsolarchoice.org (754) 307-7451

 

 

Solar Advocates File Legal Actions in Florida’s Supreme Court Against Amendment 1

Leaked audio confirms utility-backed amendment always intended to mislead the Supreme Court and deceive Florida Voters 

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, the pro-solar opponents of the utility-backed Amendment 1 have initiated legal proceedings to shed light on the duplicity and misrepresentations that characterize Amendment 1. Based on the shocking, new revelation from the James Madison Institute that the major Florida utilities have engaged in an illegitimate and secret scheme to undermine solar power initiatives, Floridians for Solar Choice (FSC) and the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association (FlaSEIA) have asked the Florida Supreme Court to reopen its case involving the constitutionality of the proposed Amendment 1.

 

Demonstrating that the utilities have engaged in misconduct and committed a fraud on the court by its misleading and untrue arguments, these advocates have asked the Supreme Court to declare that the ballot summary for Amendment 1 is materially misleading and deprives Florida voters of access to the needed information upon which to make an intelligent voting decision.

 

Opponents of Amendment 1 have also initiated a separate mandamus action in the Florida Supreme Court to declare that the Amendment 1 ballot language is unconstitutionally vague and misleading, and ordering that the Florida Secretary of State not be allowed to count any votes cast for the misleading and illegal amendment. (An appendix to the mandamus action is filed here.)

 

“The Florida Solar Energy Industries Association (FlaSEIA) is made up of small businesses throughout Florida trying to make an honest living and Amendment 1 repeats the pattern of behavior we’ve seen before: large electric utilities continue to use their monopoly control to suppress the free market and limit the development of customer-owned solar in Florida,” said Bill Gallagher, board member of Florida Solar Energy Industries Association.

 

“The more we learn about the heavy-handed, monopolistic behavior of Florida largest electric utilities, the more concerned we become. With today’s legal actions, we are exposing how the utilities and their proxy front groups intentionally used fraud before the Florida Supreme Court in advancing the anti-solar Amendment 1 ballot measure before Florida voters,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, board member of Floridians for Solar Choice. “We are increasingly confident that Florida voters will vote this down, but we are concerned that thousands of voters have already been fooled by Amendment 1’s true intent. Many of our members and supporters have asked that we take these actions as “insurance” given the extraordinary amount of money and deceptive activities the utilities are throwing at this in the final days.”

 

“The intended result of these joint actions is to preserve Florida as a state in which solar power and renewable energy choices are widely available to the public, and to prevent the improper deception by the utility companies’ effort to control and charge artificial rates for all energy manufacture, consumption, and sale in Florida,” said Benedict P. Kuehne, attorney for these filings with the Law Office of Benedict P. Kuehne, P.A. 

 

Florida Power & Light (FPL) has led the charge supporting Amendment 1 with more than $8,000,000 in contributions to Consumers for Smart Solar, the campaign supporting Amendment 1, and now holds the unenviable record for having spent the most money on a single ballot effort in the history of Florida. Duke Energy has now spent more than $6,000,000 million and moved into second place for spending on a single ballot effort. Gulf Power has donated more than $2,199,000 to date and has several different connections to the James Madison Institute. Gulf Power sponsored JMI events in 2013, 2015 and 2016 and Allan Bense serves as the chairman of JMI’s board of directors and is also a member of Gulf Power’s board. Additionally Stan Connally, current CEO of Gulf Power, serves on JMI’s board. JMI has had a Southern Co./Gulf Power executive on its board dating back to at least 2004 when Susan Story, then-CEO of Gulf Power, joined the board of JMI.

 

Both FLaSEIA and FSC feel these actions are required to further inform and protect voters against the fraud being perpetuated by the monopoly utilities support of Amendment 1 on the November ballot.

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Floridians for Solar Choice is a grassroots effort working to help more homes and businesses generate electricity by harnessing the power of the sun. Learn more at www.flsolarchoice.org