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Solar initiative backers spend another $4.3 million

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The group backing a controversial solar-energy ballot initiative spent more than $4.3 million from Oct. 22 to Thursday, with most of the money going to advertising, according to a newly filed finance report.

Consumers for Smart Solar spent $4,365,012 during the period, bringing its overall spending on the initiative to $25.47 million. The group has raised slightly more than $26 million, with much of the money coming from Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric Co. and Gulf Power. Consumers for Smart Solar is spearheading what is known as Amendment 1 on Tuesday's ballot.

The amendment, in part, would enshrine in the Florida Constitution existing rules about the use of solar energy by private property owners.

The proposal also includes a more-contentious provision, which states that people who haven't installed solar on their property "are not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do."

Proponents say the second provision offers consumer protections for people who don't install solar panels. But opponents argue it could result in "discriminatory charges" against rooftop solar users and limit the desire of people to go solar.