In St. Johns County, 200 solar co-op members have the opportunity to install solar panels at a great discount.

 

They are pooling their buying power, and they are being helped by Florida Power & Light’s consumer-friendly policies.

And the solar panels are already going up on rooftops!

LOCAL CITIZENS SHORTCHANGED

But in Jacksonville, citizens may no longer be able to afford to install rooftop solar because of a recent decision by JEA.

And without Jacksonville, Northeast Florida cannot move to clean energy.

JEA previously paid 10 cents per kilowatt-hour for the surplus electricity that is fed into the power grid by consumers with solar panels.

But JEA recently decided to sharply cut the compensation to 3 cents per kilowatt-hour. That is just a fraction of the electricity’s true value. It would effectively double the number of years that it would take homeowners to pay for solar panels from savings on their monthly electric bills.

The decision by JEA to cut compensation appears designed to stall solar energy’s growth in Jacksonville.

Utility companies dumped a jaw-dropping $26 million in a previous attempt to convince Florida voters to kill residential solar.

Their attempt failed.

IT HASN’T GOTTEN THE MESSAGE

But it appears that JEA hasn’t gotten the message.

And because of JEA’s decision, the planned January launch of the Jacksonville Solar Cooperative has been postponed.

Meanwhile — elsewhere in Florida — Solar United Neighbors and the League of Women Voters have successfully launched 20 solar cooperatives across the state, including the one in St. Johns County.

The growth of residential solar in Florida has doubled this year, moving the state from No. 14 to No. 1 in our nation.

EQUAL ACCESS TO SOLAR POWER

The co-ops have worked to help thousands learn about and feel comfortable with going solar.

But while more Floridians are gaining access to clean and newly affordable energy, the citizens served by JEA will have to wait until the utility or a governing body decides to provide them with a similar opportunity.

To his credit, Alan Howard — the chairman of JEA’s board — recently suggested that JEA may reconsider its decision on this matter.

It should.

The citizens of Jacksonville deserve the same access to affordable solar that is now available to so many other Floridians.

Warren Clark, St. Augustine

Clark is lead organizer of the St. Johns Solar Cooperative, which is sponsored by Compassionate St. Augustine.