Florida Gov. DeSantis’s veto saves rooftop solar in Sunshine State

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Exercising his first veto of the 2022 legislative session, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday vetoed HB 741, a bill that would have gutted net metering in Florida. Net metering is the policy which compensates solar owners for the excess electricity they generate and then sell back to the grid. 

“Florida has abundant rooftop solar potential that, if tapped, will bring cleaner air to Florida and nearby parts of the states it borders, making communities healthier,” said Johanna Neumann, senior director of the Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy at Environment Florida. “Thanks to smart solar policies including net metering, Florida ranks fifth in the country for solar growth over the last decade. It’s great to see Governor DeSantis recognize the value solar energy brings to Florida and veto legislation that would have ground rooftop solar power generation in Florida to a halt.” 

Environment Florida and affiliated organizations have campaigned for years to defend the policies that support solar growth in the Sunshine State. Recently, Environment America worked with  the Florida Solar Coalition and Alianza to generate more than 1,000 calls from Floridians to Gov. DeSantis to urge him to veto the bill. More than 250 Environment Florida members also emailed Gov. DeSantis with the same message. 

As detailed in Environment America Research and Policy Center’s 2021 report, Rooftop Solar at Risk, rooftop solar panels are a uniquely powerful and beneficial way to harness clean energy. Placing panels on rooftops reduces conflicts between land preservation and renewable energy production, reduces the need for expensive long-distance transmission infrastructure, and helps to build an electricity system more resilient to wildfires and other climate-related disasters.

Experiences in other states helped demonstrate that ending net metering as proposed in HB741 would have reduced Florida’s solar adoption dramatically. For example:

  • In Arizona, the Salt River Project adopted new fees and policies for rooftop solar that nearly doubled the amount of time that it took for people who installed solar panels to make their money back. Solar adoption declined between 50% and 95% after these changes were made. 

  • Nevada’s 2016 cut to net metering compensation was followed by a 47% reduction in residential solar installations over the next year. Nevada eventually reinstituted net metering. 

  • The Imperial Irrigation District in California abandoned net metering in July 2016, causing residential solar installations to decline by 88%. 

  • The Turlock Irrigation District in California ended net metering at the beginning of 2015. Within two years, annual residential solar installations had declined 74%

“Rooftop solar is cheaper, more efficient and within the reach of more Floridians than ever before,” said Susan McGrath, Executive Director of the Florida Consumer Action Network, FCAN. “Florida has so much to gain from investing in rooftop solar on our homes, schools and businesses, and we thank Governor DeSantis for rejecting efforts to push rooftop solar out of the market.” 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is reviewing that state’s net metering policy.  Earlier this year, the CPUC shelved a controversial policy that critics said constituted a “solar tax.” The proposed policy change would have charged high monthly fees only on solar customers and slashed net metering credits by 80%. The CPUC is likely to issue a revised net metering proposal later this spring. 

“Rooftop solar is among the best and fastest ways to generate clean, renewable power. We don’t have time to mess around,” said Neumann. “Florida should be doing everything it can to accelerate rooftop solar — not slow it down — and today’s action sends a clear signal to Florida and the rest of the country that America’s solar future is bright. Governor DeSantis deserves credit for defending the future of rooftop solar in Florida.”