Enviros, Tea Partiers, and the Christian Coalition all agree: Florida needs more rooftop solar

There’s an increasingly energetic fight brewing in Florida — one that has odd battle lines, bringing Tea Party activists and environmentalists together against monopoly utilities and big-money right-wing groups like Americans for Prosperity, and turning city governments against neighboring city governments.

The issue at stake? Whether state law should be amended to allow organizations other than utilities to sell electricity, which would clear the way for more rooftop solar power.

Florida is one of only five states in the country that actively bars third parties from selling electricity. (Another 20-plus states don’t explicitly bar it, but don’t allow it either — what this means for solar companies is unclear, one group that tracks the issue told PolitiFact.) So Floridian homeowners aren’t allowed to buy energy from companies that install solar panels on their roofs.

The state’s utilities, at the moment, only draw 1 percent of their electricity from solar, despite the fact that the state ranks third in the country in terms of potential to generate solar energy, and despite the fact that solar energy has become cost competitive with fossil fuels and is often a safer investment for utilities.

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