Another Florida Tea Party chapter has rejected the proposed solar energy constitutional amendment.
On July 16, Tea Party Manatee unanimously voted against the initiative put forward by Floridians for Solar Choice for the 2016 ballot. The vote came after presentations from lobbyist Danielle Alexandre and Libertarian Adrian Wyllie supporting the amendment, and Tampa 912 Project board member Karen Jaroch and Heartland Institute senior fellow James Taylor in opposition.
The vote – a third rejection of the solar proposal by local Tea Party groups — illustrates the widening rift between conservative groups over the amendment.
First reported by H. Sterling Burnett for Heartland.org, Tea Party Manatee joined other Florida chapters that see the change as giving exclusive rights to the solar power industry for generating electricity from rooftop and other small-production solar equipment. That energy could then be sold to nearby property owners.
Supporters of the amendment have been meeting with Tea Party and libertarian groups, attempting to sway opinion by saying the measure would bolster free markets with a new electricity marketplace, one that would challenge existing utility monopolies.
Critics counter the free-market argument with concerns that the amendment would prohibit all power generation except solar – an expensive and subsidized power source – leading to a deeply politically connected solar industry monopoly.
“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 told Burnett after the Manatee vote. “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.”
Taylor added, “Perhaps someday 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.”