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Controversial Solar Measure Approved With Changes

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A Senate committee Tuesday approved a revamped solar-energy bill, but the changes did not satisfy the rooftop-solar industry and environmental groups.

The Senate Community Affairs Committee voted 6-3 to back the measure (SB 1024), which has drawn fierce debate because of how it would affect the industry and people with rooftop-solar systems.

The bill deals with what is known as "net metering," which governs charges and credits between electric utilities and customers who have rooftop systems.

Supporters of the bill, sponsored by Community Affairs Chairwoman Jennifer Bradley, R-Fleming Island, say it is aimed at preventing costs from being shifted from people with rooftop systems to other utility customers.

It would do so by requiring the Florida Public Service Commission to draw up a rule that, in part, would reduce credits that people with rooftop solar systems receive when they produce electricity that goes to utilities.

The committee made changes Tuesday that would phase in the reductions over seven years. Lisa Edgar, a former chairwoman of the Public Service Commission who supports the bill, said the current net-metering system dates to 2008.

But as the number of rooftop solar users has increased, she said a 2008 rule is "outdated."

Opponents, however, disputed the arguments about cost shifting and said the bill would result in job losses in the rooftop solar industry. They also said it is being driven by electric utilities.

"This bill is designed to kill rooftop solar," David Cullen, a lobbyist for Sierra Club Florida, said.

The bill needs approval from the Senate Rules Committee before it could go to the full Senate. A House version (HB 741) was approved last week by the House Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee.

(©2022 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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