November 2, 2016 Read More →

Losing in the Polls, Florida Utilities Spend Heavily to Promote Anti-Solar Ballot Initiative

From the Miami Herald:

Florida’s largest utilities decided last week that $22 million wasn’t enough to spend on Amendment 1, so they pumped in another $3.5 million into the effort, according new campaign finance reports.

Amendment 1, which has been dubbed a “pro solar” amendment by the political committee financed by the utility giants, would inject language into the state Constitution that could be used to keep solar competition out of Florida, making it easier for the utilities to control the solar market and preserve their utility monopolies. (For an explanation of how the amendment creates a barrier to competition, see our story here.)

At least $2 million of the added cash came from Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest electric company, and $1 million came from Duke Energy, the second largest utility. The remaining $500,000 was split by two dark-money groups, the conservative 60-Plus Association and the mysterious Let’s Preserve the American Dream, both 501c(4) organizations that do not have to disclose their donors.

Consumers for Smart Solar, the political committee financed primarily by the state’s investor-owned utility companies and groups they sponsor, reported the cash injection Oct. 28, a week after hiring Hill Research to do an $80,000 poll.

The committee has not released the results of that poll but a statewide poll by Bay News 9 in Tampa on Oct. 20-24, found that the utility-backed Amendment 1 is falling short of the 60 percent it needs on Nov. 8 to become law. Only 40 percent of the likely voters polled said they support the amendment, 33 percent said they oppose it and another 26 percent said they still were still uncertain.

The poll came after the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times broke the story that Sal Nuzzo, the vice president of policy for a Tallahassee think tank that has supported Amendment 1, conceded in a leaked audio recording that utilities created Amendment 1 as an act of “political jiu-jitsu” by shrouding it as a pro-solar proposal that would instead “negate” the efforts of solar advocates.

Full article: Down in the polls, utilities pump another $3.5 million into Amendment 1 campaign

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