Florida Man Buys State: Koch Impacts in the Sunshine State:
Koch Opposition to Solar Energy In Florida

Tea Party Groups Were Put “At Odds” With AFP After The Groups Formed A Coalition With Progressive Organizations In An Effort To Open Florida Up To The Solar Energy Industry. According to a transcript of NPR’s All Things Considered, “Florida is one of several states where the Tea Party has embraced a new cause: solar energy. Tea Party groups are teaming up with progressive organizations to open up the solar energy industry. It’s an unusual coalition and puts them at odds in some states with another conservative grassroots organization, the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity.” [NPR All Things Considered, 2/24/15]

Proposed Ballot Initiative Would “Allow Business Or Property Owners To Produce Up To 2 Megawatts Of Solar Power And Sell That Power Directly To Others, Such As Tenants, Without Having To Go Through A Utility.” According to the Tampa Bay Times, “If the proposed ballot measure passes, solar proponents argue it would open up Florida’s solar energy market, which has largely stagnated for years. The measure would allow business or property owners to produce up to 2 megawatts of solar power and sell that power directly to others, such as tenants, without having to go through a utility.” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/7/15]

  • Only Five States, Including Florida, Ban The Practice” Of Allowing Business Or Property Owners To Sell Solar Power Directly To Others. According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Under state law, only utilities can sell electricity directly to consumers, though solar proponents argue that 36 states allow the practice. Only five states, including Florida, ban the practice.” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/7/15]

Floridians For Solar Choice Was Made Up Of “The Tea Party And Christian Coalition Conservatives As Well As Libertarians.” According to the Tampa Bay Times, “The ballot initiative and the coalition, Floridians for Solar Choice, have forged a unique group that includes the tea party and Christian Coalition conservatives as well as Libertarians; liberal environmentalists such as the Southern Alliance, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace; Physicians for Social Responsibility; and the Florida Retail Federation.” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/7/15]

  • Tampa Bay Times: “Floridians For Solar Choice Has Brought Together Groups That Rarely — If Ever — Align.” According to the Tampa Bay Times, “But Floridians for Solar Choice has brought together groups that rarely — if ever — align, including clean-energy activists, the Christian Coalition of America, the tea party and the Libertarian Party.” [Tampa Bay Times, 1/14/15]

Huffington Post: “Conservative Advocates In Florida Say AFP Has Been Emailing And Calling Supporters In The State To Try To Turn Them Against The Ballot Measure.” According to the Huffington Post, “Conservative advocates in Florida say AFP has been emailing and calling supporters in the state to try to turn them against the ballot measure.” [Huffington Post, 3/10/15]

AFP-Florida Sent An Email That Criticized The Solar Ballot Initiative As An Effort About “Money, And Using Government And Taxpayers To Prop Up The Solar Industry.” According to the Tampa Bay Times, “In a news release Saturday, Conservatives for Energy Freedom, part of a bi-partisan coalition leading the ballot petition, said inaccurate statements have been circulating in e-mails from Americans For Prosperity. The e-mail criticizes the ballot initiative as an effort about ‘money, and using government and taxpayers to prop up the solar industry. The solar industry cannot survive without taxpayer funded subsidies and mandates.’” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/7/15]

AFP’s Email Claimed The Solar Industry “Cannot Survive Without Taxpayer Funded Subsidies And Mandates’ And That If The Ballot Measure Passes, Floridians “Can Expect Those Subsidies To Grow.” According to the Huffington Post, “The AFP letter claims that the solar industry ‘cannot survive without taxpayer funded subsidies and mandates’ and that if the ballot measure passes, Floridians ‘can expect those subsidies to grow.’” [Huffington Post, 3/10/15]

AFP-Florida’s Email Called Floridians For Solar Choice, “A Front Group For The Southern Alliance For Clean Energy,” And Stated The Group Was Funded By Tom Steyer. According to the Tampa Bay Times, “In addition, the e-mail asserts that the coalition, Floridians for Solar Choice, is merely ‘a front group for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE)’ and that the environmental group is funded by liberal, California-based activist Tom Steyer.” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/7/15]

  • Southern Alliance Executive Director “There Is No Tom Steyer Money Associated With This Effort At This Point.” According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Steve Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance, said his organization has never received money directly from Steyer and ‘there is no Tom Steyer money associated with this effort at this point.’” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/7/15]

AFP-Florida State Director Chris Hudson: “The Policies That Some Are Promoting Would Shift More Costs Onto Homeowners That Don’t User Solar.” According to the Huffington Post, “Chris Hudson, director of AFP’s Florida chapter, said the group’s stance was in line with free-market principles, and that solar can’t compete in a free market currently. ‘At least at this point … it relies on government mandates and taxpayer-funded subsidies to make it feasible,’ he said in an emailed statement to HuffPost. ‘The policies that some are promoting would shift more costs onto homeowners that don’t user solar.’” [Huffington Post, 3/10/15]

AFP-Florida Announced It Will Host A News Conference To Address Efforts To Put A Constitutional Amendment On The Ballot In 2016 That “Would Allow Floridians More Choice About Using Solar Power.” According to the Saint Peters Blog, “The drive to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year that would allow Floridians more choice about using solar power has enjoyed quick success, and furious pushback from their opponents. […] Andrew Malave, communications director with Americans for Prosperity, told Florida Politics that his organization will be hosting a news conference on Tuesday to address the issue.” [SaintPetersBlog.com, 3/9/15]

AFP-FL Communications Director Andrew Malave: “Solar Can Not Compete In A Free Market, It Relies On Government Mandates And Taxpayer-Funded Subsidies To Make It Feasible.” According to the Saint Peters Blog, “Andrew Malave, communications director with Americans for Prosperity, told Florida Politics that his organization will be hosting a news conference on Tuesday to address the issue. ‘We should not favor one source of energy over the other in the constitution or anywhere else,’ he wrote in an email. ‘Solar can not compete in a free market, it relies on government mandates and taxpayer-funded subsidies to make it feasible.’”[SaintPetersBlog.com, 3/9/15]

Malave Cited A Study That Found “Net Metering Shifted Millions Of Dollars Of Costs From Solar Users To Other Ratepayers.” According to the Saint Peters Blog, “[AFP-FL Communications Director Andrew] Malave also cited a study by the Louisiana Public Service Commission last week that ‘found net metering shifted millions of dollars of costs from solar users to other ratepayers.’” [SaintPetersBlog.com, 3/9/15]

  • The Study Was Conducted By A Louisiana State University Economist “Who Has Done Work For Utility Companies And The Oil And Gas Industry.” According to the Saint Peters Blog, “[AFP-FL Communications Director Andrew Malave] was referring to study by David Dismukes of Acadian Consulting that said that the that the state’s 50-percent tax credit for installing new solar panels was a boondoggle, costing the state at least $89 million more than the benefits created. But that study has been strongly criticized by solar advocates for being biased. Dismukes is an LSU [Louisiana State University] economist who has done work for utility companies and the oil and gas industry.” [SaintPetersBlog.com, 3/9/15]

Conservatives For Energy Freedom Co-Founder Debbie Dooley: “AFP Frequently Mentions The Subsidies For Solar, But Fails To Bring Up The Fact Fossil Fuel And Nuclear Have Been Very Heavily Subsidized Since 1932.”

According to the Saint Peters Blog, “The drive to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year that would allow Floridians more choice about using solar power has enjoyed quick success, and furious pushback from their opponents. On Saturday, Conservatives for Energy Freedom, one of the groups pushing for a constitutional amendment in 2016 on solar, blasted the group Americans for Prosperity for what they claim are inaccurate talking points that the group has been issuing out. ‘AFP frequently mentions the subsidies for solar, but fails to bring up the fact fossil fuel and nuclear have been very heavily subsidized since 1932 and still are,’ says Debbie Dooley, Conservatives for Energy Freedom co-founder. ‘AFP doesn’t seem to have an issue with subsides if it is in the financial interests of their major donors. For the record, I oppose ALL energy subsidies.’” [SaintPetersBlog.com, 3/9/15]

Dooley On AFP’s Solar Power Position: “You Don’t Throw Your Principles Out The Window To Benefit Your Corporate Benefactors.” According to the Huffington Post, “[Conservatives For Energy Freedom Founder Debbie] Dooley accused the group [AFP] of kowtowing to its corporate benefactors rather than the will of the people, as the Koch brothers made much of their money off fossil fuels. ‘You don’t throw your principles out the window to benefit your corporate benefactors,’ she said.” [Huffington Post, 3/10/15]

Dooley: “AFP Is Supposed To Espouse Free-Market Principles, But They’re Trying To Prevent Floridians From Engaging In Commerce In A Free-Market Manner.” According to the Huffington Post, “‘AFP is supposed to espouse free-market principles, but they’re trying to prevent Floridians from engaging in commerce in a free-market manner,’ [Conservatives For Energy Freedom Founder Debbie] Dooley told The Huffington Post. ‘They are resorting to outright lies.’” [Huffington Post, 3/10/15]

Dooley: “The Koch Brothers Are Trying To Throw Back Solar On A State-By-State Level … They Understand That Solar Is Taking Off, And They’re Trying To Stop Competition.” According to Next City, “In Florida, meanwhile, a group called Conservatives for Energy Freedom is gathering signatures for a ballot amendment that would allow residents to produce and sell solar energy directly to other consumers. Its founder, Debbie Dooley, is also cofounder of the Atlanta Tea Party, and one of 22 people who helped jumpstart the movement nationally in 2009. ‘I realized that I wanted to bring up a group that was strictly conservatives advocating for solar and other forms of clean energy,’ she says of her decision to bring alternative energy and free market advocacy together under the heading ‘Green Tea.’ Too many conservatives, she adds, ‘have been brainwashed into thinking that only tree huggers and liberals care about the environment.’ Neither group has advocated heavily, so far, on the issue of state mandates — and they’re not exactly a natural fit. On an ideological level, Dooley explains, she believes in removing all mandates. But in the technical interest of allowing solar and wind to compete with coal and oil, she also reads between the lobbying lines. ‘You have to look at it on a state-by-state basis,’ she says, in response to my question on what she thinks of RPS. ‘The Koch Brothers are trying to throw back solar on a state-by-state level … They understand that solar is taking off, and they’re trying to stop competition.’” [Next City, 1/14/15]

Dooley Said “She Has Already Been Attacked By Groups Aligned With The Billionaire Koch Brothers.” According to Fox News, “Debbie Dooley — founder of the Atlanta Tea Party — is leading the charge […]Dooley says she has already been attacked by groups aligned with the billionaire Koch brothers, who have huge interests in energy. ‘I’ve been called a fake conservative, a front for the left,’ Dooley told Fox News. ‘If you Google my name, you’ll see how laughable that is. I’ve been called many things, but I’ve never been called a tree hugger or a liberal.’” [Fox News, 1/16/15]

As Of March 2015, Floridians For Solar Choice Gathered 100,000 Signatures On Its Petition To Add The Solar Measure To The Ballot In 2016. According to the Huffington Post, “The group [Floridians for Solar Choice] has already gathered 100,000 signatures on its petition to add the measure to the ballot, the first of several steps toward getting it officially included in 2016. Advocates say they’re positive that the large coalition they’ve built to support the measure will ultimately be successful, despite AFP’s efforts.” [Huffington Post, 3/10/15]

AFP Has Fought Against Solar Outside of Florida

AFP Has Fought With And Lost Battles To “Tough-Minded, Pro-Solar Branches Of The Tea Party.” According to the New Yorker, “Working primarily through conservative advocacy groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which lobbies at the state level, and Americans for Prosperity (A.F.P.), which was founded by Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists, this coalition is doing its best to weaken the nascent industry, particularly rooftop solar. In a curious twist, however, ALEC and A.F.P. have found themselves butting heads with—and even losing battles to—tough-minded, pro-solar branches of the Tea Party.” [New Yorker, 2/17/15]

In 2013, The Atlanta Tea Party Successfully Persuaded Georgia’s All-Republican Utility Commission “To Require Georgia Power To Buy More Of Its Energy From Solar Sources,” Despite AFP’s Campaign Against It. According to the New Yorker, “Co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party Debbie] Dooley led a fight to persuade Georgia’s all-Republican utility commission to require Georgia Power to buy more of its energy from solar sources. A.F.P. fought back, sometimes in ways that Dooley found troubling. ‘They would put out completely false information,’ she told me. Through mailers, mass e-mails, and Twitter, ‘they said that adding solar would cause disruption to the power supply and your household appliances. Electricity would be forty per cent higher! I don’t think they were really expecting me to go after what they were saying as forcefully as I did. I just ripped them to shreds over not being factual. We won that battle.’ (A.F.P. did not respond to repeated requests for comment.) That was in 2013.” [New Yorker, 2/17/15]

AFP-Wisconsin Supported A Plan From State Utilities, Which Could “Restrict Renewable Energy Development,” While Tea Party Patriots Was Against The Plan. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Solar advocates have enlisted conservatives in their bid to challenge proposals by We Energies and other state utilities that they say would restrict renewable energy development in Wisconsin. Debbie Dooley is visiting Wisconsin this week in a trip sponsored by the Wisconsin Solar Electric Industries Association. […] Dooley, national coordinator with the Tea Party Patriots, became involved in energy issues while fighting plans by Georgia’s main utility, Southern Co., to charge ratepayers for cost overruns it experienced while building new nuclear reactors. She became irked that utilities’ profits rose even as construction costs increased from building big projects like massive power plants. But a prominent group that supports Republicans in Wisconsin, Americans for Prosperity’s Wisconsin chapter, this week came out in support of the utilities’ rate plans.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9/16/14]