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Solar Amendment already having positive impact on industry

December 29th, 2016 by Mike Vasilinda

Nearly 2 million people voted to allow tax breaks for solar and other energy saving devices  in August. The Amendment becomes effective with the new year, but lawmakers must also act to make the savings a reality.

David Van Winkle is having 39 solar panels installed on his horse barn. They will power his 35 hundred square foot home, and the barn. Van Winkle voted for Amendment 4 in August,

“That was a positive” says the FSU Professor of Physics.

By the time these panels are on the roof and working, the electric bill here is going to be virtually zero.

Van Winkle will break even in just under seven years.

“It’s not going to take us off the grid entirely” says David, “because it doesn’t work at night and we’re not putting in a battery system.”

Amendment four says both businesses and homeowners can’t be taxed for the value of the improvements to their property, or for the value of the solar system. Voters approved a similar homeowners only amendment in 2008. It took lawmakers 5 years to put the tax breaks in place.  but even with the past history, Kim Ross of Rethink energy Florida says Amendment Four is already having a positive effect on the solar industry.

“I think in five years, we’ll see a lot more solar on rooftops in particular” say Ross.

And the growth is creating another problem. scarce labor. Al Simpler says when incentives went away a handful years ago, installers left for brighter pastures.

“It’s gonna make a long term difference, yes” says Simpler. We’re going to actually start bringing people into Florida now, to get trained in the solar business.”

And having too much business is a problem many business owners would like to be dealing with everyday.

Solar advocates do worry that big utilities, which tried and failed to pass what was dubbed the shady solar amendment one this year will try to delay lawmakers action on the tax breaks. But the advocates say they will be watching closely.

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