Berman and Hardy Advocate for Solar Bill HB 551

Berman and Hardy Advocate for Solar Bill HB 551

Will solar become our new normal?

Jim McCool
Jim McCool
March 11, 2021

Earlier today, State Senator Lori Berman (D-31) and freshman Rep. Omari Hardy (D-88) announced their joint plan to implement solar energy in a more equitable fashion in the Sunshine State.

In the Florida House, Hardy is sponsoring HB 551, also called, "Solar Energy Systems Located on the Property of an Educational Facility."

The bill is designed to "prohibit costs associated with [solar energy] from being included in calculations of total cost per student."

Sen. Berman is the sponsor of SB 188, which aims to see the same result.

Both of the pieces of legislation are primarily focused on delivering solar energy specifically to public schools in Florida however, can affect energy supply companies of all forms.

Upon finishing their virtual press conference the Floridian asked Senator Berman how much money this solar bill would actually save public schools in Florida, "The number we were given was $16,000, that's with a 100-kilowatt system."

Another big theme of today's press conference was equity.  Representative Hardy expressed concerns earlier with solar energy and the utility industry in general.

Hardy informed the Floridian, "By legalizing these things, we're allowing more people to participate in this industry and I think that is the first step to addressing the monopolies we have in the state of Florida."

While the bill is presented to be for Florida and its people, Hardy and Berman have yet to attract any GOP lawmakers to buy into the proposal.  However, Rep. Hardy believes there are, "folks on the other side of the aisle that are working on this idea.  They might not have the same bill, but there are folks who are interested in the Senate and House."

Senator Berman then name-dropped Senator Jeff Brandes (R-24) as someone of interest claiming, "he [Senator Brandes] has some legislation also, which is very positive on that, so there is similar legislation."

While Berman and Hardy work on this solar legislation, State legislators are sponsoring bills that would help Florida’s schools become resilient schools that can remain more secure during natural disasters and withstand power outages.

SB 1538/HB 1487, filed by Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez (R) and Rep. Travaris McCurdy (R), would create a pilot program in the state Department of Education to help schools become energy secure while lowering their operational costs at that same time.

The bill would also give electric utilities expanded policy tools that would assist schools with lowering energy bills, harnessing cost-saving technologies, and tapping into more financing methods that avoid the upfront costs associated with switching to solar energy.

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Jim McCool

Jim McCool

Jim is a graduate of Florida State University where he studied Political Science, Religion and Criminology. He has been a reporter for the Floridian since January of 2021 and will start law school in 2024.

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