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Florida voters reject misleading referendum that sought to tax solar energy

Constitutional Amendment 1 for the State of Florida was batted down yesterday by voters despite a strong push by utility companies

Solar panels installed at residential unitTallahassee, Nov.9.─ Voters in Florida rejected Amendment 1 yesterday, a referendum that, on its face, seemed designed to expand solar power use, but, in reality, sanctioned Florida’s utility companies to levy fees on solar power users, even when the solar panels were not pulling power off the utilities’ grids.

Amendment 1 was backed by four major local power utilities — Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, TECO and Gulf Power — which as of late October had forked $21 million to champion it. That meant this was to the most expensive campaign for a ballot measure in Florida history.

The referendum contained misleading language that confused Florida voters, with many people indicated they were in favor of the proposed amendment in the weeks leading up to the election. Support for a “yes” vote on the amendment was at about 66 percent in polls before the election.

But on Election Day, Floridians rejected the referendum, representing a huge turnaround for alternative energy activists.

Amendment 1 had been challenged by solar power advocates and consumer rights organizations, that argued that the language was misleading ...

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