Last fall, Florida citizens voted on a proposed constitutional amendment to limit the future of small-scale solar in the Sunshine State.

Florida utilities promoted the amendment as pro-solar, and they spent millions of dollars on a campaign to persuade Floridians to support it.

But solar advocates say the utilities’ amendment would have raised fees on homeowners with solar panels and permanently blocked solar companies from competing in the electricity market.

So solar manufacturers and environmental organizations in a group called “Floridians for Solar Choice” educated residents about the amendment. The campaign had very little money. Instead, it relied on people like Raul Vergara, who owns a solar installation company, to spread the word.

Vergara: “It was a little bit of everything. It was e-mails to my customers, it was phone calls to the customers, it was engaging in speaking events, it was reaching out to local governments.”

The amendment was defeated. Vergara says the defeat preserved the right of Floridians to put solar panels on their homes. And in the process, the campaign helped spread the word about the benefits of solar energy.

Vergara: “We’ve been able to engage with people and inform them that solar is now available to everybody.”

Reporting credit: Rosie Simon/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy.

Eileen Mignoni

Eileen Mignoni is a South Florida-based visual journalist who has been working on stories about science, the environment, and energy for nearly 10 years. In addition to her work at Yale Climate Connections,...