En Florida there are various reasons for which still solar energy is not used to its maximum capacity despite being considered an alternative against climate change.

By Miami Diario Newsroom

Among the causes that have prevented the Sunshine State from using solar energy are political factors, which use their influences not to develop because it goes against their interests, and the state utility companies that have obstructed the progress of this system for considering it competition, detailed nytimes.com.

The truth is that there is no justification for Florida do not use the solar energy when there are 19 states like Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Maryland, which are not so sunny and are implementing it.

According to environmentalists and solar experts this situation is due to the public service companies of the state because they consider that the companies that offer the service are competition as they want to introduce the service to residential areas. Which would lose the millions of dollars they have invested in lobbying, advertising campaigns and political contributions for users to continue using electricity.

The situation of avoiding the use of solar energy -by these companies is such- that they reach the point of delay connection to systems for months.

Currently, the Solar energy is considered essential to combat climate change and eliminate the electrical network of fossil fuels that affects the planet. There are US politicians who have seriously considered switching to clean energy, as is the case in California, the first state to require solar power for all new homes.

conflict of interests

Despite California's achievement, in many states across the country utility companies have tried to avoid -at all costs- that individuals switch to solar energy system despite repeatedly insisting. They have even given statements supporting this policy. The trade organization of the industry, Edison Electric Institute, warned that the technology threatens the basis of the business of electricity companies.

In the case of Florida, utility companies they make a lot of money in all phases of the electrical system: produce energy, transmit it, sell it and deliver it. Of course they do not want to lose this gain, he explained  nytimes.com.

Democratic Rep. of Tampa Kathy Castor said, "Utility executives are outspoken that we can't have solar in Florida because there are so many cloudy days," adding that she doesn't think that's the right response, as it has observed how other states with less sun than Florida use solar energy. She says this is due in large part to the political clout of the utility companies, which are owned by investors.

In Florida the situation of using solar panels is more complicated, when there is a law prohibiting the sale of solar electricity directly to consumers, can only be purchased through the utility company. Additionally, these companies managed to impose another state rule, which is that people who use this type of energy must purchase expensive insurance policies for the solar panels they wish to have in their homes.

One of the advocates of solar energy, the mayor of St. Petersburg, Rick Kriseman, indicated that the main problem is that companies see the user of solar energy as a competitor, not as a customer. He added: "If your earnings are based on consumption, what is your incentive to reduce electricity consumption?"

For its part, Art Graham, President of the Florida Public Utilities Commission, he asserted that simple economics was one of the reasons the state had been slow to adopt renewable energy sources. According to him, Florida has maintained the lower electricity rates than those in the Northeast and California.

Campaigns and lobbying of public electricity companies

According to a study by Integrity Florida, a non-profit research organization, and the Institute for Energy and Policy, a watchdog group, since 2014 investors in the four largest utility companies in  Florida, have spent more than 57 million dollars in campaigns in favor of electric energy. In fact, FPL, the state's largest utility, spent $31 million of that total.

Another of the data they found is that these public electricity companies they hired lobbyists, one for every two legislators in Tallahassee and lobbying them to support the energy they produce. From 2014 to 2017, the four companies spent $6 million on lobbying.

Due to leyes full Florida the solar companies that own panels cannot sell them directly to users.

In 2018, residential solar electricity provider Sunrun got approval to rent solar panels to homeowners, then the companies Vivint Solar and Tesla were able to do the same, but they still cannot sell the energy directly to consumers.

But despite this regulation, the growth of the utility companies' own solar panels, has increased, so much that Florida occupied the First in the first quarter of 2019. According to energy consultant Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association, the state is likely to hold that position for the next six years.

But despite this, during 2018, solar energy accounted for only 1% of electricity generation in Florida. The state's primary source of energy consumption is natural gas, with some utilities getting roughly a quarter of their power from coal.

A spokesman for Gov. Ron DeSantis made the case for solar power, stating in an email that "Florida's renewable energy industry is growing rapidly."

But those who have really promoted the consumption of renewable energy are the defenders of this type of systeminstead of public services.

In 2016, utilities spent more than $20 million on a campaign to create a law that would impose more tariffs on solar energy users and keep the companies of this type of energy in different lines from the public service companies.  The measure was defeated because several environmental organizations have come together to promote the benefits of solar energy.

Then in 2017 they got parliamentarians to exempt up to 80% of the value of solar installations from property taxes. This measure not only benefited consumers, but also utilities because it eased their tax burden on hundreds of acres of solar parks.

solar farms

Florida Power & Light (FPL), a company that generates, transmits, distributes and markets electrical energy, if you believe in a solar future, that is why you built a solar farm that largely meets the energy needs of the city, is named Babcock Ranch.

This company decided to create four more projects in the same style. For its part, the company Duke  stated that they are also creating solar farms Large size.

"FPL has been working for many years to advance solar power while keeping customer bills low," said Mark Bubriski, spokesman for Florida Power & Light, adding that the company will create enough solar power to power about 1,5 million of homes and provide 20% of its total generation by 2030.

During legislative hearings in Tallahassee, Syd Kitson, the developer of Babcock Ranch, reported that 20 homes will benefit when the project is completed, and also proposed building a city that could showcase the benefits of solar energy.

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