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Solar gains jobs, benefits from campaign against it

February 22nd, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

 

It was cloudy and rainy today for the fledgling solar industry as they held a “Solar Day” in the state Capitol, but the weather did not dampen the industries business outlook for the Sunshine state.

Florida’s Solar industry says voters sent a message heard nationwide when they approved tax exemptions for solar and defeated a utility friendly amendment in November. Scott Thomasson of Vote Solar is predicting a banner year for solar.

“It’s just a strong signal that the market is here for Florida. I mean, this is really the big year for Florida” says Thomason, who runs a national non profit educating voters on solar.

Florida has never lived up to it’s nickname. it is 14th in solar capacity nationwide.

In 2016, the industry added between 16 and 17 hundred new jobs. Patrick Altier is the President of the Florida Solar Industries Association. He’s also an Ocala Solar contractor. He says his business increased four fold last year.

“Had a great year last year. I addition to the projects that are in the pipeline, we anticipate at least a two hundred percent increase over last years production” says Allier.

 Lawmakers still have to implement Amendment Four. and part of their dilemma is figuring out how much the amendment will cost state and local governments.Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St.Petersburg) has filed the legislation to carry out voters will.

“I think if there is any pushback, its from the small counties who want to make sure the projects they implements are still  on their books. that’s the overriding concern we are hearing right now” says Brandes.

Last fall, Utilities spent more than 20 million dollars on a losing campaign to restrict solar, but the industry says all that cash had the opposite effect.

“It gave the solar industry a lot of free advertising at the end of the day.More frustration with the utilities” Altier told us.

While solar found cloudy skies at the Capitol, the industry says it is still shining, growing and creating jobs, thanks to the message that voters sent.

Amendment Four prohibits tax assessors from adding solar improvements to the value of a business. Since voter approval, Solar City, the largest solar company in America, has opened offices in Florida,

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