There are very few bills Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn't signed from the Republican-controlled statehouse this legislative session. But on Wednesday, lightning struck after DeSantis vetoed a bill that would've removed incentives for rooftop solar power.
Making it harder to install solar panels on their roofs in sunny Florida was not the right move politically even before the Russian war against Ukraine sent gas prices surging around the globe. With people feeling the pinch at the pump and the meter, people have increasingly been turning to EVs and solar panels to bring down energy bills.
But the Florida legislation would've made it more challenging for individuals looking to go solar by reducing the amount of money that utilities paid to homeowners when their panels generate more power than needed. It's a practice known as net metering, and it can be found in 47 states, including Florida. While homeowners love it since it gets them paid, utilities hate it since they're the ones paying. Florida Power and Light was at the forefront of the opposition, and leaked emails show the powerful utility essentially helped draft the legislation. (The utility has a long, shady history of influencing Florida politics to get what it wants.)
After passing through both chambers in the state capital, though, it went to DeSantis' desk for his expected signature — despite it being wildly unpopular. The Miami Herald noted the governor's office received 16,809 emails, letters and phone calls opposing the net metering bill against just 13 contacts in favor of the legislation. DeSantis and the Republicans in the legislature have basically acted in tandem as the governor gears up for a likely presidential run in 2024, passing scores of bills constraining free speech and furthering the conservative agenda.
But the anti-solar bill was a bridge too far, though. The governor said in a letter announcing the veto that with gas prices so high, "the state of Florida should not contribute to the financial crunch that our citizens are experiencing."
That sounds nice except it was just a little less than 11 months ago that DeSantis signed a bill into law barring cities across the state from implementing gas bans. If I were the type to insert memes into stories, here is where I insert famous Floridian DJ Khaled saying, "Congratulations, you played yourself."
The anti-solar bill would've further constrained clean energy at a time when the world needs more carbon-free sources of electricity, not less. Climate advocates were ecstatic, but the victory may be short-lived. Republicans in the statehouse have already said they plan to reintroduce a modified version of the bill.