As prices for solar installation continue to drop, home installation of solar panels becomes viable in even more places. What about our own state? Does Florida have the right factors to become a solar energy powerhouse? Yes and no.
Why the Sunshine State is lagging in solar energy
Florida is not a leader in solar energy. We should acknowledge that up front. But why?
Lack of incentives
The main reason we have less solar installation (despite our favorable weather) is legislation. Florida does not have the attractive incentives and credits of states like California and Massachusetts.
Instead, we’ve had power companies working to make it more difficult or expensive for homeowners to add solar panels to their homes. The obvious example is the failed constitutional amendment in 2016.
Luckily, Floridians appear to be embracing solar energy and pushing legislators to do the same.
Cheap energy costs
We’ve been blessed with relatively inexpensive energy, in part because of our mild weather. With an average cost of less that twelve cents per kilowatt-hour, Floridians don’t feel as much pressure to find cheaper alternatives.
This could actually be good news for you if you’re interested in solar panels. Since energy costs are lower in Florida, you don’t have to worry as much about covering all your costs with solar panels.
If you have to rely on the grid when demand is high, it won’t hurt nearly as much as in other places with higher energy costs.
The good news for Florida’s solar energy future
Despite some of the barriers to renewable energy in Florida, the future is actually quite bright, with growth expected to explode in the coming years.
Florida is the Sunshine State.
While we don’t get more sunny days than every other state, we still rank near the top (5th for overall sunshine). And the sun we do get is very intense thanks to our subtropic location.
We tend to average 100+ days with full sun and another 150 or so with partial sun. This adds up to lots of time for solar panels to soak up energy to power our homes.
Florida has cutting edge solar research.
At the University of Central Florida, you’ll find the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research division with the responsibility to “conduct research, test and certify solar systems, and develop education programs” in order to bring energy independence to Florida and its residents.
In its 35-year history, the FSEC has earned many awards that recognize it as a leader in alternative energy research. They’ve also established over 40 patents that support research and development in renewable energy.
Floridians continue to benefit from having this top notch research facility in our backyard.
Florida is embracing solar energy for many reasons.
One result of the 2016 vote to prevent Amendment 1 from becoming law is that it brought different types of Floridians together. Faced with the prospect of having power companies dictate energy law in the state, groups that aren’t traditionally aligned joined forces for renewable energy.
Environmentalists and Tea Party activists, for example, don’t agree on many issues. But they both recognized that individuals in Florida should have the freedom to determine how to power their homes.
As more Floridians see the benefits of solar energy, including its dropping prices, we can expect the environment to be even better in the future. One recent example is the decision in South Miami to require new homes to include solar panels.
What’s your experience with solar energy been in Florida or other states? Do you see us on the cusp of a new horizon?
Let me know in the comments below or send me an email.
Marc Jablon, the Jablon Team