Have you ever really been screwed? Not sexually impaled screwed, but screwed over? Of course you have. I’m not asking you this question to solely bring back terrible memories. I’m asking you this question so you can bring back some terrible memories, meaningfully resonate with the pain some of our fellow Americans are feeling in the Sunshine State, and do something to help them out.
Here’s the thing. Back in 2006 the Florida legislature approved a great solar incentive program, which paid many homeowners rebates for going solar. Since then, about $23M has been paid out, thousands of new jobs have been created, and residential solar looked like a damn fine investment across the state. The legislature let that program expire June 30th, 2010.
That’s a shame, however, what’s more of a shame is Florida owes residents money, roughly $30M, for going solar before the program expired. Some residents haven’t been paid for over a year. Clearly, the Florida state budget office is dealing with unprecedented constraints at the moment. Hell, they aren’t alone. If you compare their budget to Illinois’ it looks like a bunch of diligent, conscientious actuaries are at the helm.
But, there’s not much sense comparing a trash heap to a garbage dump. The forecasted Florida tax revenues for 2006-2010 were nowhere near their actual amount. The global financial crisis, poor oversight, and woeful contingency planning are to blame for the financial straits many states are now grappling with. Florida is no exception.
Good people, doing their best work, are being laid off from government payrolls. But, faced with the new reality of either raising taxes or cutting government programs, Florida has chosen to cut programs. That’s understandable and defensible in this environment, however failing to pay people what they are owed is not.
Cutting the solar program in the first place was a poor idea, since it contributed to expansion in the local solar energy industry – expansion that would have continued to provide the state with very needed tax revenues. Instead, it seems the heads of state are more interested in shooting themselves in the foot and digging into a deeper hole than investing in growth in business, jobs, and subsequent tax revenue.
Failing to pay Florida citizens what they are owed is not just a slap in the face, it’s irresponsible and fiscally reprehensible. To spurn these early investors kills trust and the partnership between Florida and its citizens, which was on the path to creating many more jobs and opportunities to all kinds of Floridians. We’re left with a smattering of muffled citizens who have been screwed over – by their own representatives who agreed to the deal in the first place. If this was an arrangement gone sour among the mafia, legs would have been broken by now – families in danger.
As we know from the healthcare crisis, a handful of people who get screwed over time and time again usually don’t get much attention until they unite together under a common umbrella and start to make some noise. A group in Florida has started the effort to rally the troops.
We at SPR knew things were a little amiss in Florida just from the chatter on our Florida solar info page over the past few months. However, I got a call yesterday from Jonathan Lee who apprised me of the situation on the ground. He partnered with Mike Pagozalski to head up an advocacy arm of a Florida solar company, STC group. They’ve created a website called, “Do the right thing Florida”.
There, you can help out by signing a petition to urge legislators to pay citizens what they’re owed for going solar. They’ve got district by district accounts of people owed money, and make it easy for you to contact your local Florida legislator by providing templates for letters. They need all the support they can get. Head on over to their site and sign their petition.
Last modified: February 17, 2017