TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida’s solar industry was able to hold onto its financial incentives thanks to a timely veto by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Now, solar users in the state are talking about the benefits, and the costs, of wielding the Florida sun for local power needs.
Janet Stanko drives an electric car and has solar panels on the roof of her Hillsborough County home.
“I have been an energy activist for about 25 years,” Stanko said.
Before she made the large investment to have her solar power system installed, Stanko turned to a solar co-op for advice and help.
“They help you to know your upfront costs and about how long it will take to get payback,” Stanko said.
On Wednesday Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed the state’s proposed net metering bill, which would have ended solar power benefits for residential consumers.
Now, many people are interested in making the investment, but it’s not a small decision.
“People are making an investment. The investment is not cheap. It’s usually from $20,000 to $30,000,” said Janet Lorton, the Executive Director of the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission.
She said just finding the right installer can be difficult.
“I get those phone calls just like my car warranty on my cell phone for spam. I would go on the Better Business Bureau and look up, or even just google them. You’d be surprised what you find out on the internet whether the company is viable or not,” Lorton said.
There are many Solar co-ops across Florida. Julia Herbst with Solar United Neighbors said co-ops can help people sort through many complicated questions.
“The co-op is a great way to go solar because it’s like going with your neighbors to an installer and getting a really competitive price, but you have solar experts who are vendor-neutral helping you understand the equipment, understand the economics, and giving you a fact-based profile on what it means for your family,” Herbst said.
The co-op will have a panel of experts who first investigates a vendor before recommending the installer to the homeowners and then will help get the best rates.
“It can be really complicated and intimidating and that’s why Solar United Neighbors co-op is really helpful because it explains the equipment, what it means, how it goes together, how it pays off over time,” Herbst said.
For more information on co-ops, you can go to solarunitedneighbors.org