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Major senior organization lines up behind Florida’s Smart Solar Amendment

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Seniors in the “oldest state in the nation” have joined a growing chorus of voices behind the consumer-friendly smart solar amendment to Florida’s Constitution.

60 Plus Association, a major senior advocacy group with chapters in Florida and Alabama, announced on Thursday its endorsement of the Smart Solar Amendment, an initiative seeking inclusion on Florida’s 2016 November ballot.

The group, which promotes free enterprise and less government in senior issues, is joining Consumers for Smart Solar — a bipartisan coalition of business, civic and faith leaders – to promote the campaign.

Supporters of Smart Solar say it guarantees essential consumer protections while ensuring increased access to the newest solar technology.

60 Plus says the Amendment – officially called the Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy – provides consumer protections that directly benefit seniors.

The Smart Solar Amendment was developed as a direct result of a similar initiative, sponsored by the rival Floridians for Solar Choice, which the senior group says has clear ties to the solar industry.

Calling the Solar Choice proposal “anti-consumer,” 60 Plus believes that if passed, the proposal would put seniors at risk for fraud and result in higher electric rates.

“We are pleased to join this effort to protect Florida seniors through the proposed constitutional amendment being sponsored by Consumers for Smart Solar,” said 60 Plus Association Vice President Matthew Kandrach.

“As the ‘oldest state in the nation,’” he added, “it is vital that Florida’s seniors are protected from bad actors in the solar industry, as they remain the most vulnerable age group to higher utility bills.”

Founded in 1992, the 60 Plus Association – with chapters in Alabama, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and other regions — is the nonpartisan senior advocacy group best known as a conservative alternative to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Singer and actor Pat Boone is the group’s national spokesperson.

Among others lining up behind the Smart Solar Amendment include free-market, libertarian and Tea Party groups, the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and former Florida Public Service Commission Chair Matthew M. Carter II.

Here is the ballot language proposed for the 2016 ballot:

Rights of electricity consumers regarding solar energy choice

This amendment establishes a right under Florida’s constitution for consumers to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use. State and local governments shall retain the ability to protect consumer rights and public health and safety, and to ensure that consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do.

Consumers for Smart Solar recently released a video comparing solar initiatives (titled “A Tale of Two Amendments”). The group also has a website — www.SmartSolarFL.org — a Twitter account (@SmartSolarFL), Facebook page (Consumers for Smart Solar) and a YouTube channel (Consumers for Smart Solar).

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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