The future of solar power in Florida looks brighter after Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill that would have reduced solar savings for homeowners. Advocates have celebrated this as a victory for renewable energy initiatives. However, homeowners may not want to get too complacent. In this guide, we’ll look at what the Florida solar bill would have mandated—and what you need to know about solar policy in the Sunshine State.
- Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed Florida solar bill HB 741, helping to protect the future of solar power in Florida.
- This Florida solar bill would have reduced the potential for homeowners to save on their utility bills through net metering.
- Electric companies have vowed to continue fighting the rise of solar power in Florida.
Understanding Net Metering in Florida
To understand the importance of the vetoed Florida solar bill, we must first look at Florida’s net metering program. Under net metering, when a solar panel system generates more electricity than the homeowner needs, the excess energy is sent back to the grid. The homeowner then receives a credit which can be used to offset future utility bills. In a sense, the homeowner is “selling” their unused energy to your electric company.
Under current Florida state law, electric companies are generally required to credit homeowners for the full retail cost of the excess energy. This means that the homeowner will receive a credit equal to what it would have cost them to draw the same amount of power from the grid. This is known as the “retail rate.”
If you have any unused energy credits at the end of the year, they roll over to the next year at the “cost-avoided rate.” This is the amount that it would have cost for the electric company to generate the same amount of power—the cost they avoided by receiving it from your solar panel system instead. This is lower than the retail rate, which would include the additional profits the company would charge customers on top of overhead. Still, the retail rate throughout the year more than makes up for this end-of-the-year setback.
As you can imagine, net metering is a golden opportunity for Florida homeowners to save big on their utility bills. Along with various other solar incentives, net metering makes it easier for everyone to go solar. So what would the bill Governor DeSantis vetoed have meant for net metering in Florida?
HB 741: The Florida Solar Bill That Almost Killed Net Metering
In March of 2022, the Florida Legislature passed HB 741. The bill contained two primary measures:
- First, HB 741 would have allowed electric companies to credit customers at the cost-avoided rate throughout the year—rather than the substantially higher retail rate.
- HB 741 would also authorize electric companies to charge fixed fees for the right to use net metering with their service.
As you can see, HB 741 would have drastically reduced the potential for homeowners to save through net metering. In fact, it would have rendered the net metering program effectively defunct. This would have made it much harder for Floridians to install solar panels on their homes. Many homeowners would have had to forgo the benefits of solar power altogether.
What was the justification for this bill? According to the utility providers that supported the bill—such as Duke Energy Florida and Florida Power & Light—customers who use net metering are able to reduce their bills to such a degree that they were being “subsidized” by customers without solar power. In short, in the eyes of some electric companies, customers with solar power are saving too much money—and HB 741 would have changed that.
But to many solar advocates, this bill was a naked attempt by wealthy companies to stall the rapid growth of solar power and protect their own profits. It seems many Floridians shared that viewpoint. Shortly after the bill passed in the Florida Senate, a Sachs Media poll found that only 3% of voters supported the legislation, while a whopping 86% wanted to see the Florida solar bill vetoed. And once HB 741 reached Governor DeSantis’ desk, that’s exactly what he did.
The Governor’s Last-Minute Veto
Despite passing by a wide margin in the Florida Legislature, HB 741 was stopped by a veto from Governor DeSantis. In his brief rejection letter, DeSantis wrote that “Given that the United States is experiencing its worst inflation in 40 years and that consumers have seen steep increases in the price of gas and groceries, as well as escalating bills, the state of Florida should not contribute to the financial crunch that our citizens are experiencing.”
The response from solar advocates across Florida was triumphant. “[Governor DeSantis’] decision to veto this bill will allow our industry to continue growing and give more homeowners in our state the chance to lower their electric bills with solar,” said Justin Vandenbroeck, president of the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association.
In the words of Katie Chiles Ottenweller, Southeast Director at solar advocacy group Vote Solar, “We are thrilled and encouraged and heartened and ecstatic and validated. This has been a long, bitter fight to try to protect solar rights in Florida… I feel like Floridians have spoken. Credit really goes to the public for speaking out.”
However, not every state was so lucky. Just last year, California passed NEM 3.0, widely regarded as a severe downgrade from the Golden State’s previous net metering policy. Under NEM 3.0, California homeowners are now facing major restrictions on their ability to save through solar power.
And even in Florida, the fight for solar isn’t over yet. Duke Energy Florida and Florida Power & Light have both vowed to continue pushing for revisions to Florida’s net metering regulations. To many solar advocates, it’s only a question of time until Florida follows in California’s footsteps and passes an equivalent of HB 741 without the veto.
So what can Floridians learn from California’s solar misstep? Well, first and foremost: the sooner you switch to solar, the better. California’s NEM 3.0 contains a grandfather clause. Homeowners who already had solar panels installed on their homes can continue claiming net metering credits under the previous rules. Those who waited too long don’t get that privilege.
HB 741 also included a grandfather clause, and it can be assumed that any future versions of the Florida solar bill will, too. So if you want to take full advantage of the benefits of net metering in Florida, it may be wise to install solar panels now—before it’s too late.
Go Solar With Current Home
Now that Governor DeSantis has vetoed HB 741, homeowners hoping to save through solar power can breathe a sigh of relief. However, don’t get too comfortable. It won’t be long before there’s another Florida solar bill on the horizon. Next time, we may not be so lucky.
If you’re ready to go solar, we can help. In fact, when you work with Current Home, you can get affordable financing options with $0 down and 12 months of free energy. That way, you can reap the benefits of solar power with zero upfront investment.
With changes looming in the Florida solar market, now is the best time to seek out your solar options. See what we can do for you and schedule your free solar consultation today!