By Yann Brandt; In a stunning November surprise, the Florida Professional Firefighters (FPF) have withdrawn their support for Amendment 1 in Florida.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. The 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.