Solar Rebates?

By: Whitney Ray Email
By: Whitney Ray Email

Tallahassee, FL - Brian Lockwood installed solar panels on his house in June, believing the state would make good on its promise to refund some of the cost.

When we caught up with Brian in September he still hadn’t been paid, because a 32 million dollar fund set aside for rebates was frozen.

“It’s pretty outrageous to offer a rebate and not come through with it,” said Brian.

Brian is still waiting for his check, but there’s good news, kind of. State lawmakers will call a special session November 16th, to override nine vetoes and unfreeze money for rebates.

“The remaining tranche of federal money that’s categorized to energy, lets consider using some of that money to pay off on a pro-rata share the solar rebate program,” said Incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon.

But there’s a math problem facing lawmakers. The state owes 52 million dollars, but it only has 32 million dollars in the rebate fund. The answer maybe to pay people less than what they are owed.

The idea that some of his customers may not get their full rebates isn’t sitting well with Solar Panel installer Al Simpler.

“If you put a rebate into Sony and they owe you 400 dollars and they say well wait a minute we’re sorry we are only going to send you 200. Wouldn’t you be upset? You know, where’s the rest of my money,” said Simpler.

The original form typed up by the state seems to promise a full rebate, but in late 2007 a paragraph was added giving the legislature authority to reduce the amount of the rebates.

The Governor’s Energy Office is still reviewing the rebate program to decide how much money people seeking a rebate should be paid. Legislative leaders say once everyone is paid they’ll shut the program down and look for different ways to expand Florida’s solar market during the 2011 session in March.

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