Solar amendment protests heated as election nears

Image 1 of 3

Sparks are flying over Amendment 1 - turning solar power into one of Florida's hottest topics.

"It is fully, fully deceitful. It is a big lie," Rep. Dwight Dudley said at a protest in front of Duke Energy Tuesday.

Rep. Dudley is among those voting "no." He says Amendment 1 does the exact opposite of what it promises.

"They are blatantly lying. They are blatantly saying it is a useful, beneficial thing for renewable power in the state of Florida, for solar, that its going to expand solar when it creates the groundwork to just do the opposite," he said.

The State's largest power companies have spent more than $20 million supporting Amendment 1. Critics said that alone is reason to vote "no."

Opponents claim big utility companies are trying to create a solar monopoly. Supporters of the amendment said critics aren't telling the truth.

"It just says government can make sure, as solar grows in Florida, it is fair," said Screven Watson. "If you like government involved in consumer protection then you should like Amendment one." 

Watson is with Consumers for Smart Solar. He supports Amendment 1 and said it preserves the right of Floridians to have and use solar power. He said it allows local governments to retain their ability to regulate it.

"They don't want government involved. They want sort of a special exemption from solar, from government interference," said Watson.

He said people who choose to go solar still need the grid for backup power and should share in the cost of grid maintenance. He said Amendment 1 guarantees that those who can't afford to go solar, aren't the only ones left footing the maintenance bill.

Persuading the critics is a challenge, to say the least.

"It does the exact opposite for the expansion of renewable power in the State of Florida," said Rep. Dudley.

Whether either side can persuade voters remains to be seen. It'll take a 60-percent vote in favor, to pass.