Solar could boom after rejection of Amendment 1

It was a $20 million ad campaign backed by big utility companies, but in the end, the voters said no to Amendment 1.

"Actually, grassroots action can beat back a massive television media buy," says Frank Jackalone of the Sierra Club. "If we hadn't done what we did, it would have passed by 80 percent."

The failed constitutional amendment should have imposed new barriers on the expansion of rooftop solar energy, like the system Perry Everett installed at his home in St. Petersburg. Everett said his utility bill is around $10. 

That's because the utility company buys back the excess energy that Everett produces.

The price of solar equipment has dropped more than 50 percent in the past six years according to one independent study.

"The time is now," says Scott McIntyre of Solar Energy Management. "It's not 10 years from now. It's not five years from now. It's now."

He says the solar industry is growing by double digits, but the utilities may try again to erect new barriers on solar. McIntyre wants a new state energy policy. "It would include the incentivization of solar power and bring employment and bring the industry to Florida," he says.

Even now at Erwin Technical college in Tampa, solar installation students are getting hired as quickly as they graduate. Even opponents of Amendment 1 say, for all its faults, it shined new light on solar energy in Florida. A solar industry association says in the next five years, 19 times more solar will be installed in Florida than in the past five years.