Solar panel homes at New urban Suburb

The Sunshine State is living to its name with more and more Floridians choosing solar.

The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) recently announced residential solar installations jumped 54% from 2017 to 2018, representing two consecutive years of growth of more than 50%.

PSC Chairman Art Graham credited the increase to the outworking of various interconnection rules.

“After a decade of use, our interconnection rules have more than proven their effectiveness at ‘priming the pump’ for growing customer-owned rooftop solar,” Graham said.  “This, coupled with the many utility-scale solar projects coming online, benefits Florida’s renewable generation for all customers.”

PSC data indicates that residential solar installations in three different areas–IOU, municipal and the state’s rural electrical cooperative–increased from 24,157 in 2017 to 37,862 in 2018. Those installations created 317,462 kilowatts of gross power, representing a 65% increase over 2017, the biggest jump in power product in the past five years.

Solar Interconnection by Utility

PSC’s records reveal that Duke Energy had the largest number of residential interconnections, 12,550, for 2018. The following list details the number of interconnections per utility this past year:

  • Duke Energy: 12,550
  • Florida Power and Light: 11,380
  • Tampa Electric: 3,090
  • Gulf Power Company: 1,173
  • Florida Public Utilities Company: 131

Solar Growth in the Context of Florida’s Energy Choice Movement

Over the past year, Florida utilities have made multiple announcements about the development of residential solar and solar power generation. This trend includes a project from Florida Power and Light in which the company said they plan to install 30 million new solar panels by 2030.

These announcements come in the context of a state where there is a petition to put an energy-choice amendment on the ballot in 2020. Utilities are opposed to the petition, as it would jeopardize their business model.

In an effort to curry favor with voters, utilities have publicized their solar projects, a move that’s similar to what NV Energy did in Nevada. Voters in that state had to vote yes twice on an amendment  (called “Question 3”) to pass energy choice.

The first vote was a resounding success. As the second vote approached, NV Energy lobbied hard against Question 3, both in the amount of money they spent to defeat it and the announcement of big solar projects that won voters and environmental groups’ affections. Question 3 failed in the second vote, largely due to NV Energy’s efforts.

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