Tea party and environmentalists unite in Florida

The power of solar to unite the U.S.’ diametrically opposed political parties has again become evident in a petition to cut utilities out of the sale of power in Florida.

According to a report in the Tampa Bay Times newspaper on Tuesday, Republican Tory Perfetti has launched a petition to remove the stipulation that only utilities can sell power to consumers in the state.

Perfetti wants voters in the 2016 Florida election ballot to be able to vote for the amendment, which would mean private individuals and companies owning solar systems would be able to sell up to 2 MW of solar power directly to consumers, such as tenants of a building with a solar rooftop.

The report states Perfetti has been working with Georgia Tea Party leader Debbie Dooley and has also had backing from Democrats with unnamed environmental groups in the state set to announce their backing for the petition on Wednesday.

Whilst Democrats and environmentalists are keen to remove the power sale monopoly enjoyed by utilities in Florida for environmental reasons, extreme conservatives such as the Tea Party are attracted by opening up the power market to competition with the power companies.

Perfetti’s Floridians for Solar Choice group secured permission for the petition from the Florida State Department on December 23 and needs to secure 683,149 signatures by February 1 next year to make it onto the 2016 ballot paper.

For the measure to pass into law it would require 60 per cent of the vote in the November 2016 election. According to the newspaper report, Florida is one of only 14 U.S. states which have retained the utilities power sale monopoly.