Florida sees record rise in solar use

A 30 percent federal tax credit has helped fuel the growth. The tax credit expires at the end of 2019. (MGN)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Florida’s utilities reported a record number of new solar and other renewable hookups in 2018. The reason is a combination of concerns over climate, lower cost panels, and a tax rebate.

Ivan Baggett, an electrical engineer, has had a dream since he was young.

“When I was a kid I was reading science magazines. They had articles that say someday your house may be powered by the sun, and I thought, 'That is so cool. I’m gonna do that one day,'” said Baggett.

The dream first came true in 2007. He added more solar last year, and so did a record-setting 37,862 other Floridians.

Baggett added panels to charge his two electric cars. He posted his near-zero electric bill on Facebook.

“I do it to help save the planet we’re on. I do it to save money, and I do it because I had a dream doing it when I was a kid,” said Baggett.

Baggett has calculated that he’ll get his money back on his solar addition in about six years, while the panels will keep generating for several decades.

Solar contractor Al Simpler calls the record-setting 57 percent increase in renewable hookups over the year 'about time'.

“We have a long way to go in Florida. We’re kinda behind a lot of states. So to see that kind of jump in Flordia, the Sunshine State, is very encouraging. That just means more people are educated,” said Simpler.

There is also a growing number of customers for solar battery storage systems not captured in the numbers submitted by Flordia utilities.

A 30 percent federal tax credit has helped fuel the growth. The tax credit expires at the end of 2019.

Solar won’t work if there is too much shade or your roof doesn’t have a south or southeast slope, but there are other options, such as community solar generation and purchasing dedicated solar energy from public utilities.