Voters looking at 2 solar power amendments

2 groups compete for voter signatures all year


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida voters could be looking at two very different solar power amendments during the 2016 election. It’s crunch time for the groups to try and get their proposals to qualify for the ballot.

Dec. 31 is a big day for the groups, because election supervisors can choose not to send signatures they’ve received if it’s less than 30 days from the hard deadline of Feb. 1.

Two groups have been competing for voter signatures all year. Floridians for Solar Choice said their amendment proposal would allow residents to install solar panels and contract outside utility companies.

Their competition, Consumers for Smart Solar, is a group backed by utility companies, spending big bucks to keep customers paying on the grid. Utilities spent almost $2 million last month supporting the group. 

Kim Ross, with ReThink Energy Florida, said the dueling amendments and possible confusion is by design.

"Now both groups are in a last minute push for signatures," Ross said.

The group Floridians for Solar Choice hopes to have everything wrapped up by the end of the month

The deadline for verified signatures is Feb. 1. The groups need more than 683,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Solar Choice has just over 253,000. Smart Solar sits at just more than 335,000.

John Hedrick, with Floridians for Solar Choice, said there’s no guarantee his competition will go through with everything.

“As far as the other petition, I know it’s gathering a lot of petitions. Also, it looks like, at least on the state website, it’s ahead of ours," Hedrick said. "We don’t know if they’re going to go on and qualify that or not. In other campaigns I’ve seen, quite often, the other side uses this as a distraction.”

Floridians for Smart Solar maintain that customers will end up paying more to maintain the grid if the other amendment passes.