Coalition of Conservatives and Progressives Join to Battle Utilities’ Curbs on Florida Solar

first_imgCoalition of Conservatives and Progressives Join to Battle Utilities’ Curbs on Florida Solar FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Sam Ross-Brown for The American Prospect:An unlikely alliance of Tea Party conservatives and progressive climate advocates has come together to fight a controversial solar energy ballot initiative in Florida. Launched in 2015, the so-called “green tea” coalition that includes the Nature Conservancy, the Christian Coalition, the Sierra Club, are standing firm against a measure that would enshrine Florida’s anti-solar policies in the state constitution. The coalition views the amendment as a power grab by the state’s largest utility companies that could cripple the state’s nascent solar industry and undermine consumers’ ability to tap into Florida’s vast solar energy potential.The Florida Right to Solar Energy Choice Initiative, which heads to voters in November, would give residents “the right to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use.” The measure, known as “Amendment 1,” also mandates that “consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize” those that do.While Amendment 1 supporters frame the initiative as a pro-solar consumer-protection measure, opponents say the language is intentionally misleading:Despite its wording, the amendment does not actually allow consumers to lease home solar systems from a solar-power installer or developer. This financing model, also known as third-party leasing, has made solar systems more affordable for residents in many other states. Similarly, Florida residents already have the right to buy and use rooftop solar panels, and protections for energy consumers are strong.Instead, opponents stress that the measure is designed to enshrine the existing leasing ban in the Florida Constitution in tandem with a specific prohibition against “subsidies” for solar customers. Depending on how that language is interpreted and enforced, these changes could make solar power prohibitively expensive for the average Florida consumer and more difficult in the future to change policy.With the rapid growth of rooftop solar in recent years, major power companies in many states want to roll back the tax incentives that have played a critical role in making small-scale solar-power installations affordable for homeowners, apartment dwellers, and small businesses. But conservative Republicans and environmental advocates have joined forces against what they view as unfair market practices by large utility companies and their industry allies that have balked at the competition from small-scale solar systems.Boasting vast and largely untapped solar energy resources, the Sunshine State’s battle over rooftop solar systems has brought conservatives and progressives together in a joint effort to promote small-scale green energy. “This is about choice and freedom,” says Debbie Dooley, a co-founder of the Tea Party movement who recently joined the pro-solar policy fight in Florida. “I think Ronald Reagan said it best: Being good stewards of the environment that God gave us should not be a partisan issue.”In 2014, Dooley helped establish Conservatives for Energy Freedom, a national group that serves as a counterweight to the large, investor-owned utilities that have opposed the growth of residential solar-energy systems. These companies operate, generate, transmit, and distribute energy with almost no competition in Florida and elsewhere. “That government-created monopoly model really conflicts with conservative values,” says Dooley. “It’s about stifling competition.”The solution, Dooley realized, involved empowering consumers to generate their own electricity, particularly through rooftop solar systems. The group waged and won its first political battle in 2015 when Georgia passed a law that permits third-party leasing. Under the new law, consumers can now lease home sola- energy systems from installation companies and purchase the power generated by those systems at a discounted rate. This financing model allows Georgians to avoid the high upfront costs of buying a home solar system and has increased rooftop solar installations statewide.After the Georgia battle, the group turned its attention to Florida, where utility companies had recently won a fight to gut the state’s energy efficiency and solar rebate programs. These types of changes, Dooley says, “essentially block out the sun.” The power companies’ attempts to enshrine anti-solar policies in the state constitution could cripple Florida’s solar industry, she warns.The proposed amendment would ban “subsidies” for solar customers. Those subsides could include programs like net metering, which allows solar consumers to sell their excess power back to utilities at market rates. A net metering rate cut would make a home solar-power energy systems more expensive for most Florida homeowners.Florida largest power companies and conservative business groups are bankrolling a well-funded and coordinated pro–Amendment 1 effort. The Consumers for Smart Solar campaign emphasizes the need to “protect Floridians from scams and rip-offs” and “promote solar in the Sunshine State.” Since last summer, Consumers for Smart Solar has raised and spent more than $7.6 million, $2 million more than Governor Rick Scott’s re-election PAC, Let’s Get to Work, has pulled in.According to Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Action Fund, that rhetoric is designed to confuse voters, since Florida consumers currently have the right to own and use solar panels and third-party leasing is already banned. In fact, Florida is one of just four states that outlaw third-party leasing. Moreover, the initiative does not contain any new consumer protections. “They’re trying to undermine the economics of rooftop solar,” says Smith whose group is a “green tea” ally of Conservatives for Energy Freedom. “You can see them dancing around that.”But Kallinger says solar customers should share the costs of operating the power grid. “If you choose to use solar, and you use the grid, you have to pay for the maintenance of that grid,” he says, echoing language utility company officials have used in Michigan, Nevada, and a few other states. In the coming months, Consumers for Smart Solar plans to step up its anti-solar campaign with “Yes on 1 for the Sun” TV ads, direct mailings, and a social media push.Yet there may be some dark clouds on the horizon for Amendment 1. A March Mason-Dixon Polling and Research survey of 625 registered Florida voters found that 64 percent of those polled supported the measure, while 18 percent opposed it and another 18 percent were ‘not sure.’ Support for the measure has dropped nearly 10 percentage points since a Hill Research Associates February survey commissioned by the proponents, Consumers for Smart Solar.Under Florida law, constitutional amendments must obtain 60 percent of the vote to pass. In recent weeks, the Tampa Bay Times, Sun Sentinel, and a handful of other Florida newspapers have expressed deep skepticism about Amendment 1, calling its language “deceptive” and “manipulative.”The Florida solar campaign demonstrates how that conservatives and progressives can find common ground on energy policy.Full article: Tea Partiers and Progressives Unite Against ‘Deceptive’ Florida Ballot Initiativelast_img read more

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Government still not meeting welfare needs of veterans: Kompas survey

first_imgA majority of people feel the government does not care enough about the welfare of the nation’s veterans, according to a poll conducted by Kompas daily.The online survey, conducted from May 19 to 23, found that 64.3 percent of 515 respondents polled across 26 provinces in Indonesia felt that veterans and their families were not properly looked after, with only 18.2 percent respondents saying they were quite well-off. The government increased the amount of financial aid for veterans on January 2018, with veterans and family members of veterans who have been granted posthumous awards receiving Rp 938,000 (US$65.98) per month.Moreover, veterans also receive a monthly allowance ranging from Rp 1.5 million to Rp 2 million.However, many believe that the assistance is still not enough to support veterans and that the country should do more to improve their welfare.Ninety-five percent of respondents agreed that veterans should not have to pay Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan) premiums. Meanwhile, 70.1 percent of respondents suggested that veterans should get free public transportation access.Furthermore, 75.4 percent respondents agreed that veterans should be exempt from land and building tax (PBB), which has been granted by several regional administrations, including the Jakarta administration.Through Jakarta Gubernatorial Regulation No. 42/2019, veterans are one of the groups who are not required to pay PBB on their properties, and are allowed to release at least one asset from tax liabilities. (dpk)Topics : Moreover, 56.3 respondents believed that the government did do enough to secure the livelihoods of the country’s veterans, kompas.com reported while citing the survey, which had a margin of error of 4.65 percent.They highlighted three basic needs of veterans that were insufficiently met.Some 35.5 percent of respondents said that veterans were not properly housed, while 27.5 percent touched on the need for food assistance and 21.3 percent highlighted the issue of access to proper health care.Read also: Elderly: 9% we rarely talk aboutlast_img read more

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Forget the prevailing wisdom – you can afford to buy a house in Brisbane’s most expensive suburbs

first_imgKevin Hayes and his family have bought affordably in Bulimba. Photo: Claudia BaxterOne magic number proves it’s not just millionaires buying in Brisbane’s expensive suburbs.You might think it takes impossibly deep pockets to become a homeowner in our most desirable addresses, but the numbers prove that’s not true.Our 20 most expensive suburbs have median house prices ranging from $950,000 to $1.85 million, but not every house is the same. Cheaper homes are on offer, too. It’s time to consider a measure called the lower quartile.Put simply, if there have been 100 sales in a suburb, ranked from least to most expensive, the median price would be the 50th sale, but the lower quartile shows the price of the 25th sale – or ‘the median of the lower half’. Source: CoreLogic“It gives a better idea of what the entry point into that market is going to be, rather than that middle of the pricing range,” said Corelogic RP Data head of research Tim Lawless. “Often the lower quartile (price) can be more than 50 per cent lower than the actual median price, particularly when a suburb has a really diverse range of housing.”Mr Lawless said it was useful for drilling down into the detail of markets.“Look at the buy-in price of Hamilton, based on the median of $1.3 million, but there’s still 25 per cent of properties that have sold for a price tag of about $860,000 or less,” he said. “I think a lot of people will be looking at the numbers and saying, ‘Well, maybe buying a detached house in Hamilton isn’t quite as unachievable as I thought.’”More from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this homeless than 1 hour agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investor7 hours agoMr Lawless said smart investors used the measure to spot opportunities. “In some way, the lower quartile is a good reference point for the worst house in the best street,” he said.Place Bulimba marketing agent Shannon Harvey agreed the lower quartile measure should be part of most buyer analysis.“A lot of people are forgetting that properties will come up that they actually can afford,” she said.Ms Harvey said buyers needed to do the research, get prepared and be ready to strike when a low-priced opportunity presented itself.“Typically, it would be unpresented – the garden needs work, it might need a paint, there might be some maintenance issues, it could be a tenanted property where they’ve got a 12-month wait to get into the home,” she said. “It’s something that’s not perfect, but if you can compromise a little bit you’ve got a reward there.”Kevin Hayes and wife Kate used the approach when buying in Bulimba.Mr Hayes said the couple were looking on-and-off for five years before the imminent arrival of their second child compelled them to act.“We were trying to find something that was ‘move in ready’ – something we could easily move into but had potential to get our hands dirty down the track to do some improvements.”Their three-bedroom cottage on 400sq m within a short stroll of the Oxford St cafe strip was perfect. They bought in August 2016 for $811,500 – more than 30 per cent below the suburb’s median house price. Mr Hayes said buyers keen on low-price real estate needed to become area experts. “Do lots of research, keep your eye on the internet, have a good understanding of where you want to be and be prepared to roll your sleeves up and get a bit dirty when you move into your new property,” he said. “Don’t try and buy the forever house straight away if you’re looking to do what we’ve done.”last_img read more

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Michael Schumacher’s family share rare update on F1 legend’s current condition

first_img Written By Suraj Alva COMMENT LIVE TV SUBSCRIBE TO US Also Read: Michael Schumacher’s Wife Corinna Is Hiding F1 Legend’s Condition, Claims Ex-managerF1: Michael Schumacher health As Michael Schumacher turned 51 on Friday, his family issued a rare public statement about his medical condition. He stated that they are doing everything humanly possible to save the seven-time Formula One world champion. His family and his wife Corinna have maintained secrecy regarding his health. The family released a statement on January 2nd which said that fans can be sure that Schumacher is in the very best of hands and that they are doing everything humanly possible to help him. Also Read: Michael Schumacher’s Prophecy On Lewis Hamilton’s F1 Future Comes True; Watch VideoF1: Ross Brawn speaks about Michael Schumacher health Ross Brawn, who has served as a technical director in Benneton and Ferrari, is one of only a handful of people to have visited Michael Schumacher. He believes that Schumacher’s family did the right thing by concealing his medical condition. According to the Irish Times, Brawn said that he is constantly in touch with Schumacher’s wife Corinna. He agrees with their family decision. He further added that Michael has always been a very private person and it’s completely understandable that Corinna has wanted to maintain the same approach. He said that it’s a decision we must respect. Whether or not we’ll see Schumacher regain full fitness, only time will tell. One thing is for sure though. Fans will keep praying for the legend’s speedy recovery. Also Read: Michael Schumacher Hope Emerges: Why He’s An F1 Icon Like No OtherAlso Read: Charles Leclerc Beats Michael Schumacher With $10m, 5-yr Deal With Ferrari; Here Is How It was December 2013 when Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher was on a holiday with friends and family in the French Alps. The holiday turned into a nightmare when he suffered a ‘severe head injury’ while skiing. Michael Schumacher was immediately airlifted to Grenoble Hospital and required ‘immediate neurosurgical intervention’. The former Ferrari driver went under the knife for two life-saving operations. He remained in a coma post the accident.  WATCH US LIVE Last Updated: 3rd January, 2020 20:49 IST Michael Schumacher’s Family Share Rare Update On F1 Legend’s Current Condition As Michael Schumacher turned 51 on Friday, his family issued a rare public statement about his medical condition. His family has maintained secrecy about it. First Published: 3rd January, 2020 20:49 IST FOLLOW USlast_img read more

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