Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) applauded Florida Governor Rick Scott for signing into law Senate Bill 90 (SB 90), “Renewable Energy Source Devices,” which extends a property tax exemption for renewable energy installations, including solar, wind, and geothermal, on both commercial and residential properties. The legislation implements the Amendment 4 ballot initiative passed by Florida voters in the statewide primary last August, with 73 percent voting for approval, well above the 60 percent needed to adopt an amendment of the state constitution. Gov. Scott’s signature follows unanimous approval of SB 90 in both chambers of the Florida legislature. The legislation goes into effect July 1, 2017.
“We thank Governor Scott for signing this bill to carry out the desire of Florida voters to see more renewable energy in the Sunshine State,” said Maria Robinson, associate director of energy policy and analysis for AEE. “By signing the bill to implement Amendment 4, the Governor has removed a critical barrier to growth, allowing for more residential and commercial customers to choose advanced energy options like solar power, and spurring growth of advanced energy companies and jobs in Florida.”
“Florida has tremendous solar resources and this legislation will only enhance investment across the state,” said Colin Meehan, Director of Regulatory and Public Affairs at First Solar, a leading global provider of advanced PV solar systems. “Utility-scale solar is increasingly competitive and this legislation will help us continue to do business in Florida bringing reliable, affordable, clean energy to Floridians.”
First Solar, the largest U.S.-based solar panel manufacturer, is supplying photovoltaic modules to Coronal Group for use in three solar plants being built on U.S. military installations in the Florida Panhandle. Elgin Air Force Base, Holly Naval Base and Saufley Naval Base will soon be home to solar energy plants with total generating capacity of 120 megawatts (MW).
“We applaud Florida Governor Rick Scott and lawmakers from both chambers for enacting the Amendment 4 implementing legislation. Solar is a massively growing industry that is creating jobs all across the Sunshine State. Governor Scott’s signature today ensures that the state remains a business-friendly environment, and that solar has the opportunity to reach its economic potential,” said Tom Carlson, Regulatory & Legislative Affairs Manager at EDF Renewable Energy.
EDF Renewable Energy is one of the largest renewable energy developers in North America, with over 9 gigawatts (GW) of wind, solar, bioenergy, and storage developed.
Florida’s renewable energy sector is part of a vibrant $6.2 billion advanced energy industry in the state, bigger than the $4.2 billion generated by agricultural exports, according to AEE’s 2015 Advanced Energy in Florida market report. Also, Florida’s advanced energy industry is a major statewide employer per AEE’s 2016 employment report: At 140,000 workers, advanced energy in Florida supports nearly twice as many jobs as agriculture, more than real estate, and equal to schools, colleges, and training institutions. Employers expected to add more than 5,000 jobs by the end of last year, a growth rate of 4%.
Background on SB 90
This legislation implements Amendment 4, which exempts tangible personal property tax on solar or other renewable energy source devices installed on commercial and industrial property. Ultimately, 80 percent of the assessed value of a renewable energy source device, which is considered tangible personal property and is installed on real property on or after January 1, 2018, will be exempt from ad valorem taxation. SB 90 reflects an extension of the existing tax abatement for solar and renewable energy devices on residential property. The tax incentives would begin in 2018 and extend for 20 years. Although the House and Senate versions of the implementing legislation were very different at the start of session, each side was able to iron out their differences in order to finalize the legislation that was signed by the Governor. The House passed an amended version of SB 90, 119-0, on May 3. On May 4, the Senate concurred with the amended version and passed the legislation 33-0.
The Amendment 4 ballot initiative was offered in the 2016 legislative session by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg), along with Representatives Ray Rodrigues (R-Fort Myers) and Lori Berman (D-Boynton Beach). It was passed by the Florida legislature in March of that year.
In 2015, advanced energy jobs in Florida, including solar energy, reached 140,000 workers, more than twice as many as in agriculture and more than in real estate, with advanced energy jobs expected to grow 4 percent this year. A report by Navigant Research for AEE valued the Florida advanced energy market at $6.2 billion in revenue in 2014.