2017 marks turning point for solar in Florida

By Ben Delman on December 15, 2017

If 2016 was the year that Floridians stood up for their right to solar, then 2017 may be remembered as the year we started exercising that right in earnest. The year began fresh off the heels of the resounding defeat of a utility-backed measure that would have limited our ability to go solar. Florida now leads the country in new permits for residential solar.

We don’t find this surprising, as we have seen strong support for solar across Florida. More than 600 homeowners have gone solar with the help of a local solar co-op. In May, we helped launch the first two of many solar co-ops in South Florida.

With encouragement from solar co-op participants, South Miami passed an ordinance to require solar on new residential construction. The first of its kind in Florida, the bill will help grow the area’s solar market and provide cost savings for new homeowners. Several Miami-Dade municipalities have also passed ordinances aimed at streamlining the solar permitting process.

In September, Hurricane Irma hit the state. Solar showed that it could withstand the storm. We profiled several homeowners whose systems took on the storm and passed with flying colors.

October brought an exciting announcement: The re-branding of FL SUN to Solar United Neighbors of Florida. The new name and logo are designed to better link our efforts in Florida with similar groups across the country. We also announced the creation of a membership program to provide services to the solar homeowners and future solar homeowners while rapidly building the community of solar supporters.

As the year draws to a close, we find ourselves again fighting for our solar rights. In October, the Jacksonville Energy Authority (JEA) voted to drastically cut the credit it would provide to its solar customers. JEA’s rash decision, made without proper public input, sprung the community of solar supporters into action.

Hundreds of Jacksonville residents contacted JEA to let the board know we disapproved of its decision. At a subsequent board meeting, JEA indicated a willingness to rethink its decision. We will continue to press JEA to ensure all Jacksonville residents, and all Floridians, can benefit from solar.

We’re excited for what 2018 will bring – more solar co-ops across the state and an even stronger army to fight for solar rights.