August primary ballot: Yes on Amendment 4

 

Florida voters will see a single amendment on their August primary ballot: Amendment 4. A broad cross section of more than 170 environmental and business groups across the state say Amendment 4 is good for both consumers and for business. Amendment 4 was placed on the ballot by the unanimous consent of the Florida House of Representatives and Senate and no organized opposition has filed to oppose this effort.

 

Amendment 4 will amend Florida’s Constitution to exempt the value of solar panels and other renewable energy equipment from both the tangible personal property tax and the real property tax. In Florida, changes in state property taxes and exemptions most be placed in the Constitution to take effect, and any proposed constitutional amendments must be supported by at least 60 percent of voters for approval.

 

On the primary ballot, Amendment 4 is labeled: “SOLAR DEVICES OR RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCE DEVICES; EXEMPTION FROM CERTAIN TAXATION AND ASSESSMENT.”If approved, it would:

■ Extend a tax break for residential property owners who have installed solar or other renewable-energy equipment since Jan. 1, 2013.

 

■ Establish a new exemption for businesses. If Amendment 4 is approved, appraisers would exempt the value of renewable-energy devices from the ad valorem tax levied on the “tangible personal property” of businesses. (This defines everything other than real estate used in a business,)

 

Experts say Florida should be in the top three for solar nationally, particularly with our high electricity costs for almost year round air conditioning. According to US Department of Energy, Floridians consume 40% more electricity than the national average. Voters who want to see solar expanded in the Sunshine State should vote YES on Amendment 4.

 

Dr. Jim Fenton, Director of Florida’s Solar Institute at University of Central Florida: “While prices for solar have fallen by 80% over the last 10 years, and solar is expanding all across America, taxes remain one of the most meaningful obstacles to businesses expanding solar in Florida.”

 

Anheuser Busch Beer Distributor, Great Bay Distributing CEO Ron Petrini in Tampa, FL who early this year installed the largest private array says, “the going is great, we hope to save 80% of our electricity costs and keep that money in Florida investing in added staff and expanding our business.”

 

Allan Gelb, a homeowner in Central Florida who recently installed rooftop solar says, “For the six months the system has been in operation the comparative cost of electricity from our utility are as follows: Before solar (a year ago) $1350. After solar (this year) $261 credit. This is a net savings of $1611.”

 

FL RETAIL FEDERATION: “Florida should be at the forefront of solar choice for consumers and increased solar job creation,” said Randy Miller, Florida Retail Federation. “The passage of this amendment will help Florida continue to move forward with added development and utilization of solar, which will benefit both residents and business owners in the Sunshine State.”

 

FL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: “On August 30th, Floridians will have an opportunity to diversify our state’s energy portfolio and help Florida achieve energy independence,” said Christopher Emmanuel, Director of Infrastructure & Governance Policy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber of Commerce is pleased to support Amendment 4, and supports this opportunity to help lower costs on Florida families while also strengthening economic growth.”

 

NATURE CONSERVANCY: “Amendment 4 protects the health and environment of Florida for families and future generations by expanding the use of clean energy and reducing reliance on fossil fuels,” added Janet Bowman, The Nature Conservancy. “Florida has one of the highest rates of home electricity consumption in the country, yet renewables only account for 3 percent of our energy market-passage of Amendment 4 is an important step towards making clean, affordable energy more attainable for all Floridians.”

 

JOBS: There are more than 6,500 solar jobs in Florida today. If this amendment passes, Florida’s solar industry could significantly grow as companies hire more employees to sell and install solar equipment across the state, and as more solar companies come to Florida to take advantage of this opportunity.

 

FL RESTAURANT and LODGING: “Tourism is Florida’s top industry. Florida visitors will benefit from energy savings that Amendment 4 will offer residents, businesses and visitors,” said Richard Turner, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “Our association and members urge voters to support Amendment 4 and vote YES on August 30th.”

 

FL LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS: “Passage of Amendment 4 means more solar energy, more jobs for the Sunshine State, more competitive energy choices for consumers, and keeping Florida dollars at home and in the pockets of our families,” said Pamela Goodman, President of the Florida League of Women Voters.

 

Amendment 4 has more than 170 organizations, associations, businesses and elected leaders endorsing including:

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Florida Chamber of Commerce

Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association

Florida Retail Federation

Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

League of Women Voters of Florida

Sierra Club

Christian Coalition

The Nature Conservancy

Florida Tea Party

 

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