Florida says no to $400M in federal solar energy incentives

MIAMI - Florida has passed up on up to $400 million in federal money that would have helped low-income households install solar panels.

A $7 billion grant “competition” to promote clean energy in disadvantaged communities by providing low-income households with access to affordable solar energy was introduced by President Joe Biden earlier this year, but none of that money will reach Florida households.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the competition in June as part of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. However, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has decided to pass on the $400 million up for grabs by choosing to opt out of the opportunity.

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The program would have helped Florida households reduce their electricity costs by a minimum of 20% during a key time when Floridians are leaving in droves due to a rising cost of living associated with soaring insurance costs and inflation.

Florida was one of six other states that chose not to apply for the money.

President Joe Biden announced a $7 billion “competition” to promote clean energy in disadvantaged communities.

The opportunity, named “Solar for All,” was announced by the EPA in June and promised to provide up to $7 billion in grants to states, territories, tribal governments, municipalities, and nonprofits to expand the number of low-income and disadvantaged communities primed for residential solar investment — enabling millions of low-income households to access affordable, resilient and clean solar energy.

The grant is intended to help lower energy costs for families, create jobs and help reduce greenhouse effects that accelerate global climate change by providing financial support and incentives to communities that were previously locked out of investments.

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The program aims to reduce household electricity costs by at least 20%. Florida households paid an average of $154.51 per month for electricity in 2022, just over 14% of the national average of $135.25, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. A 20% savings would drop those bills down to around $123 per month.

On the campaign trail, DeSantis has pledged to unravel Biden’s green energy agenda if elected president, slamming the Inflation Reduction Act and what he called “a concerted effort to ramp up the fear when it comes to things like global warming and climate change.”

His energy agenda includes ending Biden’s subsidies for electric cars while pushing policies that he says would ramp up domestic oil production.

“The subsidies are going to drive inflation higher,” DeSantis said at an event in September. “It’s not going to help with interest rates, and it is certainly not going to help with our unsustainable debt levels.”

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DeSantis’ plan to curb clean energy usage in Florida seems to be at odds with the state as a whole, which has been ranked among the top three states to go solar since 2019, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

SEIA also shows, however, that Florida lags behind many other states when it comes to solar policies. Florida, for instance, has no renewable energy standards, which are used to increase the use of renewable energy sources for electricity by requiring or encouraging suppliers to provide customers with a stated minimum share of electricity from eligible renewable resources, according to the EIA.

Power purchase agreements, which can help lower the cost of going solar through third-party financing, are also not allowed in Florida. And there have been other policies implemented that drove other potential solar investments to other states.


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