While Hurricane Irma quickly passed over Florida and did far less damage than anticipated, it left more than 40 percent of the state without electricity.
Over the last week, Florida Power and Light (FPL) has had crews working around the clock to restore full service to the state, but more than a million residents are still without power, even though many of them have solar panels attached to their homes.
So why can’t they generate electricity for themselves?
Because FPL has spent A LOT of money lobbying state lawmakers to keep people on their grid. In Florida, thanks to FPL and their parent company NextEra Energy, it is illegal to power a home with solar power. All residents must connect their solar panels to their local electric grid.
In addition to not being allowed by the state to generate their own electricity, homeowners with solar panels are required to shut them down when the power goes out “in order to prevent dangerous back feed on FPL’s grid. This is required to protect FPL employees who may be working on the grid.”
However, this is nothing new to Florida residents though. The Republican-led state government has continuously given itself over to the highest bidder when it is time to “pass meaningful legislation.” Governor Rick Scott’s most recent campaign took in more than $1 million from state utility companies.
As the Miami Herald previously reported;
The Integrity Florida report compiled years of data on campaign finance and lobbying from public records, along with media reports, to make its case. It found that between 2004 and 2012, the companies infused more than $18 million into legislative and state political campaigns and spent more than $12 million over the past five years hiring lobbyists. The report also detailed a pattern of favoritism toward utilities by regulators at the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Legislature.
The cost to the company, the report found: an estimated $300,000 to hire 15 lobbyists in 2006 to push for the bill, and more than $3.6 million in campaign contributions for lawmakers to keep the charges intact.