PSE Director Dana R. Fisher recently wrote about how the 2016 election will affect the energy transformation taking place in the United States on the Huffington Post. The full text is available here.
In his recent post on the blog of the Science, Knowledge, and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association, PSE Fellow Joe McCartney Waggle writes about the presidential candidates, Congress, and the prospects for scientific research following the 2016 election . Read it here.
By Ann H. Dubin
With all of the intense focus on the presidential race, it’s easy to forget that voters have a lot of important decisions to make on November 8th, beyond who will occupy the White House. In Florida, one such decision is the fate of Amendment 1, “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice.” The title’s political genius is positively Orwellian: it all sounds good—consumer rights, solar energy, choice—but gives no indication at all of what voters are actually being asked to approve or reject. Depending on who you talk to, this constitutional amendment will either protect consumers from predatory energy providers, or shield investor-owned utilities (IOUs) from having to compete for customers in a free solar market.
While there is ample potential for solar energy expansion in a place like Florida, current policies do not necessarily encourage the technology. For example, Florida has no renewable portfolio standards (RPS), nor are power purchase agreements (PPAs) allowed that might open up the solar market. In the August statewide primary, voters did approve Amendment 4, a non-controversial measure that extends tax abatements for residential solar users to commercial users, as well. But barriers remain, such as high insurance premiums for those who install solar. Duke Energy, the state’s second-largest utility, requires a $1,000,000 insurance policy for private solar users generating more than 10 kilowatts. In short, the state lacks an RPS that might spur solar development; PPAs that might make it easier for consumers to afford solar are prohibited; and despite tax abatements, insurance policies for solar installers are a steep price to pay. Thus, even though the opportunity is there, Florida lags behind other states, such as Nevada, with similar solar capacity.