Florida has spent recent years building up its reputation as a business-first state that is dedicated to finding ways to promote company growth, create jobs and stimulate the economy.
One industry that is growing in Florida and is on the brink of a jobs boon is next-generation solar energy technology. According to a recent report by The Solar Foundation, Florida ranks in the top ten states for solar jobs with thousands employed, but there’s no good reason our sunny state should not be closer to the top of that list.
Solar energy production in the Sunshine State is not new. In 2008, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing homeowners a tax exemption if they installed solar panels on their homes. While property values increase with the installation of solar panels, homeowners are not burdened with additional taxes to their property. Utility companies continue to invest in solar technology as do residents and businesses, but more can be done by simply removing barriers that keep us lagging behind other states.
As Florida lawmakers continue to promote tax fairness and job creation, we urge them to pass Senate Bill 172 (and SJR 170) and House Bill 195 (and HJR 193). This legislation will allow for an amendment to be placed on the ballot for voters to decide if businesses deserve the same tax fairness that homeowners currently receive for the installation of solar panels. If passed, this would be a step in the right direction to remove onerous barriers to solar investment for new installations.
The Florida Retail Federation is dedicated to promoting new business, increasing employment and stimulating the economy. We believe that these bills will spur investment in a competitive new energy industry and create jobs in Florida.
This legislation is a common sense approach to applying tax fairness that will clear the way for businesses to invest in solar energy. And by opening up the door for more solar development, more companies that design, manufacture, sell and lease solar equipment would also be encouraged come to this great state or expand here in Florida. The Solar Foundation data shows that solar jobs are local jobs, and by allowing our businesses to “go solar” as they do in other states, we can expect to create more solar jobs here in Florida.
Offering the same options for commercial properties, that currently exists for residential, would allow Florida businesses to take control of their energy bills and invest further in our new energy economy.
This legislation is business-first and ideal for Florida’s job-friendly environment. We urge the Florida Legislature to pass this legislation this session. We encourage our lawmakers to give Florida voters the opportunity to support this ballot amendment in November.
Randy Miller is president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation.