A recent ballot initiative is being put forth in Florida that has staggering implications for the solar energy industry.
The measure, entitled Amendment 1, seeks to put into the state constitution that solar panel owners must remain on the grid and continue to pay energy rates determined by the local utility company. This is an obvious attempt for utility companies to continue to monopolize the energy market and block out any encroachment from solar energy.
The amendment fundamentally makes the claim that those without solar power are subsidizing those with solar power because of the cost to the grid. This is despite the fact that those with solar panels would be connected to the grid anyway, and may even be giving energy to it. This distinction means nothing.
When it comes down to it, public energy companies do not want the public having access to solar energy. The reason should be obvious: solar energy would in effect completely nullify the need for more traditional uses of energy. In fact, it could spearhead a movement of true energy independence. This would mean high losses for the public sector and the state that enjoys taxing public utility payments.
In addition, solar panel owners can use their own energy or decide to use the local utility energy. Public utilities would like to charge these solar panel owners extra because they are being more efficient with their energy use. This would make the cost of owning a solar panel increase, which would make it unattractive to consumers. Florida has already passed legislation to block financing agreements that would make it easier for consumers to own solar panels. Thus, despite being a state filled with sunshine, residents are unable to benefit from the excess sunlight.
How Progress Dies?
This situation is quite instructive of how government regulation basically kills progress. The myopic view of the public sector has it so that they cannot see the benefit of progress that would make their services obsolete. This concept is called “creative destruction”, and is something that society has largely benefited from since the Industrial Age.
Can you imagine where we would be if the candle and lamp industry successfully blocked the light bulb and electricity? Can you think of the irony that an industry that fundamentally exits because of progresses that made former technologies obsolete, is now trying to block the new technology from doing the same thing?
It is in times like this that the public needs to be vigilant. It is unfortunate that often times the public does not have as strong of a lobby or political organizations as the public sector does.
It is clear to those in the public sector that their jobs are on the line if solar panel energy becomes the norm. It is in times like this that I think there should be a lobbying firm or political organization that solely takes up causes to protect the interest of the people. Sadly, if we are expecting the government to do this, we will be sorely disappointed.
Gary St. Fleur
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