Tea Party Manatee Rejects Florida Solar Amendment

Published July 20, 2015

Tea Party Manatee has voted unanimously to oppose an amendment to the Florida Constitution giving the solar power industry a special carve-out for direct electricity sales. The Tea Party Manatee vote marks the third time in a row that a Florida Tea Party or 912 Project heard a debate on the topic and then voted unanimously to oppose the proposed constitutional amendment.

The solar power industry and a coalition of left-of-center activists are championing a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution that would give the solar power industry the exclusive right to generate electricity from small-sized power equipment and sell the electricity on site or to adjacent property owners. 

Proponents of the amendment have been actively courting Tea Party groups and free market advocates by claiming the amendment would advance free markets by creating a new electricity market at the expense of utility monopolies. Tea Party groups and free market advocates have not been swayed, expressing concern that the amendment prohibits all power generation but solar, chooses the most expensive and heavily subsidized power source to benefit from the monopoly carve-out, and clutters the Florida Constitution with special interest favors for a single politically connected industry.

Debates Doom Solar Amendment at Tea Party

At the July 16 meeting of Tea Party Manatee, lobbyists Danielle Alexandre and Adrian Wyllie gave presentations praising the amendment while Tampa 912 Project board member Karen Jaroch and Heartland Institute senior fellow James Taylor gave presentations expressing concern about the amendment. A 30-minute question-and-answer session followed the presentations.

At the end of the meeting, Tea Party Manatee polled its members by voice vote on whether they supported or opposed the amendment. When asked how many supported the amendment, the room was absolutely silent. When asked who opposed the amendment, the room erupted with nays. 

“This is the third time I have had the privilege of participating in a Tea Party or 912 Project point-counterpoint discussion on the proposed constitutional amendment,” Taylor noted. “At the end of each meeting, the Tea Party and 912 Project members voted unanimously to oppose the amendment. This is in stark contrast to the liberal mainstream media’s fictitious narrative that Tea Party groups throughout Florida are joining forces with environmental activists to support the proposed amendment.” 

“Perhaps some day the solar power industry will find a single Tea Party member somewhere in the state who supports the proposed amendment. That day, however, has yet to come. Even if such a day eventually arrives, the number of Tea Partiers supporting the solar power amendment will likely still be smaller than the number of Tea Partiers supporting Obamacare,” said Taylor.

H. Sterling Burnett ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.