By Tom McLaughlin | 315-4435 | @TomMwnfdn | [email protected]

It’s hard to believe in a year when the legalization of marijuana appears as an amendment question on Florida ballots that there’s another generating at least the same, if not more, controversy.

 But opponents and proponents of Amendment 1, the so-called “solar amendment,” have spent millions selling their point of view to voters, and recently a lawsuit was filed to remove the constitutional question altogether.

Four proposed changes to the Florida Constitution will be offered to voters.

 Amendment 1 provides: “A right under Florida’s constitution for consumers to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use.”

 “State and local governments shall retain their abilities to protect consumer rights and public health, safety and welfare, and to ensure that consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access to those who do,” the amendment says.

 Supporters advertise that Amendment 1 is “solar done right.” They argue that the most debated wording in the proposal, that which ensures customers are not required to subsidize backup power and electric grid access, offers consumer protections from politicians and rule changes.

 Power companies have reportedly spent more than $25 million attempting to sell Amendment 1 to voters.

 Opponents, including most of the state’s major environmental groups, call Amendment 1 a deceitful effort on the part of utility companies to exercise continued control over Florida’s energy market.

 “Amendment 1 is a cleverly-designed attempt to maintain monopoly control over Florida’s energy industry. This amendment is an attempt to manipulate people into falsely believing it is currently illegal to buy or lease solar,” Tory Perfetti, chairman of opposition group Floridians for Solar Choice, said in a news release.

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