News Roundtable: Presidential Election 2016 and What Will Trump Do? (Podcast)

The marathon Presidential election is over and Donald Trump is the next President. Join the podcast as Yann Brandt and Frank Andorka try to make some sense of what the election means to solar and how the industry did on the State level votes. Coverage includes what Trump’s moves could be on energy and votes in Arizona, Nevada and Florida. This is part 2 of 2.

News Roundtable: Presidential Election 2016 and State Solar Votes (Podcast)

The marathon Presidential election is over and Donald Trump is the next President. Join the podcast as Yann Brandt and Frank Andorka try to make some sense of what the election means to solar and how the industry did on the State level votes. Coverage includes what Trump’s moves could be on energy and votes in Arizona, Nevada and Florida. This is part 1 of 2.

Florida Firefighters Withdraw Support for Anti-Solar Ballot Question

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 By Yann Brandt; In a stunning November surprise, the Florida Professional Firefighters (FPF) have withdrawn their support for Amendment 1 in Florida. Amendment 1 is the utility backed ballot initiative that could remove net metering altogether. In a press release on Friday, FPF sent out a press release announcing the news to no longer support the amendment.

Firefighters have been featured in TV commercials on a continuous loop. The message is the importance of amendment to protect first responders and properties. There is no message about the existing building and fire codes that already cover this concern through the many different regulations.

FPF was caught in political turmoil when a lobbyist was tied to the utility group that is backing the amendment. Firefighters and members from across the State communicated their concerns to FPF. Part of the press release says, “As a member driven organization, our leadership has communicated with hundreds, if not thousands, of firefighters over the last few weeks regarding their concerns with Amendment 1 and the real firefighter safety issues related to solar energy systems.”

On a personal note, I have been a volunteer firefighter in Maryland and Florida and asked Floridians for Smart Solar about how the ballot amendment helps firefighters. Here was their response. fullsizerenderThe group has been quite active online through their website and social media deleting all references to the firefighters, their support and the many ads featuring firefighters in full turnout gear.

Firefighters on social media were quick to cheer their political advocacy group for the move. FPF President, Jim Tolley, did caveat the change of heart with the following statement, “We assure Florida’s firefighters that their safety remains our top priority and this decision, by no means, indicates that we will be any less vigilant in advocating for their health and well-being when it comes to rapidly evolving, environmentally friendly, and sometimes confusing alternative energy systems.”

Also on Friday, the Supreme Court turned down solar advocates requests to review the ballot question. While disappointing to advocates, polling suggest that momentum for the #NoOn1 movement is heading in the right direction.

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Florida Polling Shows Anti-Solar Amendment Behind

In a poll commissioned by SolarCity, released today by SEIA, Amendment 1 is showing a change in sentiment from the voters. In the most recent poll, 51% of respondents said that will definitely or probably vote yes on the amendment. That is a steep decrease from a month ago when 71% said that yes would likely be their vote.
The poll was conducted over two periods. From 9/29 – 10/09 and from 10/20 – 10/25 which showed the change in sentiment by the likely voters. 528 respondents were polled and a strong level of support for definitely voting yes was found at 30% meaning that the amendment needs another 30% to reach the 60% required to pass. 22%, down from 40%, still find themselves leaning towards yes while 11% are undecided, down from 15%.

Utilities and other interests have pumped over $26 million into the effort to persuade Floridians to vote yes, which is a vote against solar. The effort is a one-sided advertising blitz for voters in Florida with ads shown on web pages and TV channels in full force. Advocates against the amendment have been active on social media and received every major newspaper endorsement. To add some advocacy heft, SEIA President Tom Kimbis is headed to Florida this week to help local efforts. Kimbis said today, “Floridians are waking up to the fact they are being deceived and it is absolutely critical – no matter what the poll numbers – that they go to the polls or mail in ballots to say NO to Amendment 1.”
On Wednesday, FlaSEIA and Floridians for Solar Choice filed a lawsuit asking the Florida Supreme Court to reconsider the ballot amendment. The groups also asked the Secretary of State to embargo the results until the court has ruled. At hand, according to the groups, is the new information from the leaked audio referencing the misleading political jiu-jitsu. The groups argue that there is now “proof of the deception and potential misconduct” by the backers of the amendment.

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