MIAMI – Of the 20 million people in Florida, fewer than 1 percent cut their electricity bills by having solar power.
"Most of that is because we haven't had the policies and the utilities, because they want to sell electricity to people," said Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. "They don't want people having their own power, and have been working against local solar ownership."
Enter Amendment 4 on the Florida primary ballot on Aug. 30. The language is legalese, but simply, it would allow property owners and business owners to go solar without being taxed on the equipment, as well as expand that exemption homeowners already have.
The amendment is supported by groups across the political, social and economic spectrum. Internal polls show overwhelming support when voters understand it.
"It's good for jobs, so it's good for the economy. It's good for the environment. It's good for the people of Florida," said Pamela Goodman, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. "There is really nothing bad about this amendment."
The opposition has been limited, though civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton flew to South Florida on Tuesday to appear in opposition. Sharpton insisted the amendment should also make guarantees for communities of color, involving revenues, jobs and/or services.
"You cannot ask people to give you an affirmative vote when you're not giving them an affirmative guarantee," he said.
What Amendment 4 does guarantee is every Floridian's ability to go solar more easily and more affordably.