Experts detail what votes on solar amendments mean

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It's one of the great ironies of Florida. We're first in sunshine, but way behind in solar energy. But now, solar is up for a vote. It's Amendment 4 on Tuesday's ballot. 

Dan Harmon is very interested in the issue. He's training at Erwin Tech to install and repair solar energy systems. He believes his studies will lead to a good job, but more than that, he wants to help end reliance on power from utility companies.

"What we want to do is change that, put more of the power in the people so we can produce our own electricity and change the policies," he said.

Solar advocates say passing Amendment 4 on Tuesday is a step in that direction.

"If  somebody wants to reduce their expenses, reduce their electric bill, they shouldn't be burdened with taxes to do so," said Wayne Wallace of Solar Source, an energy company based in Largo.

Amendment 4 would exempt the assessed value of solar devices from tangible personal property tax. In other words, if you install solar in your home or business, your property taxes can't go up because of it.

Right after Tuesday's election, solar activists will go to work against November's solar amendment, Amendment 1.

Amendment 1 would put into the state constitution the right to own or lease solar panels. It would also ensure that people who don't install solar aren't required to subsidize back-up power for those who do.  Opponents of Amendment 1 expressed concern that lawmakers could prohibit the practice of net metering, which requires utilities to buy surplus electricity generated from solar-powered homes.

Opponents also say Amendment 1 would constitutionalize the current law.

"And current law has given us one tenth of one percent of our needs met with rooftop solar," says Susan Glickman of Southern Alliance For Clean Energy. "So vote yes on Amendment 4 in August and no on Amendment 1 in November."