Based on newly-discovered evidence they say undermines the Florida Supreme Court’s approval of Amendment 1’s ballot language, opponents of the so-called solar amendment filed a petition Wednesday asking the court to reopen the initial case.
They also filed a second petition asking it to remove the issue from the ballot and that the ballots already cast not be canvassed.
New information from leaked audio has confirmed Amendment 1 supporters intended to mislead the Supreme Court and deceive Florida voters, the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association and Floridians for Solar Choice leaders said today in a conference call with reporters.
“The more we learn about the heavy-handed monopolistic behavior of Florida’s largest utilities, the more concerned we become. With today’s legal action we are exposing how the utilities and their proxy groups intentionally used fraud before the Florida Supreme Court in advancing the amendment on the ballot now before the voters,” said Stephen Smith, a board member of Floridians for Solar Choice and executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
The policy director of the James Madison Institute, a Tallahassee-based think tank admitted at an Oct. 2 conference that the ballot measure indeed was a deliberate effort to confuse Florida voters.
Benedict Kuehne, an attorney representing FSEIA and Floridians for Solar Choice said the two filings are designed to bring judicial relief now that proof of the deception and potential misconduct before the court has been unmasked.
Kuehne said a “secret scheme” by Consumers for Smart Solar, a group backed and primarily funded by Florida’s largest electric utilities, was designed to mislead the public into believing Amendment 1 is pro-solar, when it is not.
Sarah Bascom, spokesperson for Consumers for Smart Solar, said, “This is just political grandstanding at its best to deter Florida voters from voting in favor of Amendment 1, which simply safeguards consumer rights, consumer protection and consumer fairness as we grow solar in Florida.”
The amendment would place existing laws into the Constitution. The utility-back group favoring the amendment has poured more than $26 million into its campaign.
The court approved the ballot measure’s language in a 4-3 vote in March, but in her dissenting opinion, Justice Barbara Pariente wrote, “Masquerading as a pro-solar energy initiative, this proposed constitutional amendment, supported by some of Florida’s major investor-owned electric utility companies, actually seeks to constitutionalize the status quo.”
Smith said that all that is needed is one additional justice to be persuaded to re-evaluate his or her former position.
“We continue to have great concerns on how Amendment 1 is going forward. We believe we have to use all of the tools in our tool box to try to prevent the monopolistic activities of Florida’s largest utilities as they try to suppress consumers on solar,” Smith said.