Amendment 1 Rejected, Home Sellers Benefit
On November 8, when millions of Floridians went to the polls to vote for their next U.S. President, they also voted on a proposed amendment to the Florida constitution. Amendment 1 was a controversial measure that was worded in a manner which suggested it would expand solar energy in the Sunshine State, when in fact it would have done just the opposite. Ultimately, the constitutional amendment failed to get the 60 percent of votes it needed to pass.
The proposed constitutional amendment had the strong support of Florida’s largest electric utility companies. More than $20 million was spent by utilities and their allies on the campaign to promote the measure. The amendment’s language suggested that the measure would benefit solar energy expansion in Florida. Early estimates indicated that the amendment had a good chance at being approved. However, The Miami Herald reported evidence that revealed that Amendment 1 had used pro-solar language to shroud its true purpose, which was to limit solar expansion. After this revelation, the amendment faced a backlash in public opinion which would end in its failure to be passed.
The True Purpose of Amendment 1
Amendment 1 was supposed to serve as a tool for Florida’s electric utility companies to limit Florida’s boom in solar energy, especially rooftop solar expansion. First, the amendment guaranteed Floridians the right to generate their own electricity. If this measure would have been added to Florida’s constitution, it would have allowed utilities to raise fees on solar users, thus reducing the competition from third-party companies wanting to provide homeowners with solar energy. The amendment was part of a broader national backlash by utility companies against solar power. Utility companies wanted to ultimately take away tax rebates that benefit solar users and stop net-metering, a system which allows homeowners to be reimbursed by utility companies for the excess electricity generated by their solar panels.
Home Sellers Should Celebrate
The rejection of Amendment 1 is welcome news, especially for those who wish to sell their home. According to Realtor Magazine, there is a significant housing trend toward sustainable homes. Homebuyers strongly consider a home’s sustainability and energy efficiency when house hunting. A solar energy system increases property value and decreases electricity costs. A study backed by the Department of Energy found that solar panels can add up to $15,000 to a home’s selling price. Furthermore, electricity costs can be lowered by over $10,000 by an average solar array. Florida home sellers gain greatly from these benefits because of the state’s plentiful access to sunshine.
Utility companies are not likely to stop in their attempts at limiting Florida’s solar boom. Still, this set back should be celebrated by home sellers who can continue to fully enjoy the state’s rooftop solar expansion, at least for now.