Don’t be fooled by FPL’s fake community solar
By Ben Delman on March 17, 2020
Utilities use fake community solar programs to maintain their control over the energy system.
True community solar enables individuals, businesses, or organizations to buy or lease a “share” in a specific, nearby solar installation. They are then able to receive a credit on their electric bill. This credit works the same as if there were a solar system on their own roof.
Utility programs keep ownership of energy generation in the hands of the utility. The latest example comes from Florida, where the Public Service Commission recently approved Florida Power & Light (FPL)’s SolarTogether program.
What SolarTogether does
- FPL will build and own 20 large-scale solar power plants. This will generate enough electricity to power almost 300,000 Florida homes.
- FPL customers must pay to subscribe to this program. At launch, participants pay more than they normally would for electricity. True community solar programs enable participants to pay less for their electricity. FPL says customers may start to see a return after seven years in the program.
FPL benefits at your expense
- FPL is charging all customers to build SolarTogether. Every FPL customer will feel this in the form of higher monthly electric rates.
- FPL is not able to set rates on its own. It needs approval from the state Public Service Commission. The commission’s approval of SolarTogether will allow FPL to charge customers more.
It’s a terrible deal for customers
- The Office of Public Council (OPC) and Florida Public Service Commission staff opposed the program. These parties are responsible for protecting customers from utility overreach.
- OPC says it may take as long as 26 years for non-participating customers to see savings from the program. The Public Service Commission erred by not getting a better deal for FPL customers.
- The program offers paltry savings to low-income participants. SolarTogether sets aside up to 10,000 slots for low-income participants. We estimate that the average participant would save just $3.50/month. The monthly electric bill for a family of four could be several hundred dollars a month.
Florida law prohibits real community solar
- Individuals, businesses, or organizations in Florida are not allowed to pool resources to develop their own solar projects.
- This gives utilities like FPL a monopoly over energy production.
Want to learn more about what makes real community solar?