Florida voters approve expanded tax breaks on solar energy equipment
Florida voters have added a tax break for solar energy to the state’s constitution. FSRN’s Sean Kinane reports, it could encourage businesses to add rooftop solar in the Sunshine State.
Florida’s newest constitutional amendment passed on Tuesday with more than 72 percent support. It will give a property tax exemption for renewable energy equipment, mainly on commercial buildings.
Florida residents already qualify for tax incentives to install solar equipment – this amendment extends similar tax breaks to businesses that often have vast expanses of rooftops perfect for larger scale solar arrays.
“People ask us all the time: ‘Why isn’t there more solar in Florida?’ Well, there’s been a host of barriers. And one such barrier is, ‘Hey, you know we want to generate home-grown jobs, we want to save our customers money’ and to do that, people shouldn’t be burdened with taxes if they want to save money on their electric bill,” says Wayne Wallace, president of Solar Source, a Florida company that installs solar panels. “So, Florida could be a leader in solar energy; we have the sunshine, we just don’t have the policy.”
But Amendment 4 addressed just one of the policy roadblocks to maximizing solar energy production in the Sunshine State.
Florida is one of only five states that prevent third-party energy sales. And the utility companies hope to keep it that way.
In November, Florida voters will see another solar amendment on the general election ballot; backed by the large electric utilities and opposed by many environmental groups. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has said it would “limit non-utility solar options in Florida by enshrining the status quo and providing the utilities with leverage to continue to control their customers.”
And Nevada voters will decide on a constitutional amendment to give all energy customers the right to choose their energy provider and generate their own energy for resale.