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Published on: Activism

Volunteers Speak Up About Rooftop Solar, But Governor’s Office Covers Their Ears

published on: April 13, 2022

The fight for access to rooftop solar in Florida is not over. Throughout the 2022 Legislative Session, we put up a strong fight, along with our partners, to oppose the anti-rooftop solar net metering bill, HB 741. As soon as the bill was filed back in November of 2021, we wasted no time in activating you, our members, to oppose this bill. Together, we worked to build a movement to make our voices heard at the Capitol. 

We made a lot of phone calls this session. On January 26, we hosted our first Phonebank to Save Rooftop Solar with our colleagues at The CLEO Institute, Solar United Neighbors, and ReThink Energy Florida. It was an energetic and productive event thanks to the amazing turnout! With 29 volunteers we were able to make 538 calls to our members. This was our largest phonebank ever, thanks to you! 

On March 1, we brought the Phonebank to Save Rooftop Solar back by popular demand! With only two weeks left in the legislative session at this point, we were eager to reach as many members as possible to raise the volume of the opposition to this bill and put more pressure on lawmakers. Together with our partners and 15 volunteers, we doubled our calling efforts. We were able to dial 921 calls in less than an hour!

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, on March 2, HB 741 passed in the Florida House with a vote of 83-31. You can find the full vote count here. Less than a week later, the companion bill SB 1024, passed in the Senate with a vote of 24-15 on March 7. You can find the full vote count in the Senate here. If you want to know how your legislators voted but you’re not sure who they are, you can find your lawmakers here. 

Due to the passage of the net metering bill in the House and Senate, we had to shift our efforts to a veto campaign with the goal being to mobilize our members to call and email Governor DeSantis asking him to veto HB 741. It’s up to Governor DeSantis now to stop this bill. 

However, contacting the Governor’s office by phone has proven to be difficult on numerous occasions. Every time we encouraged our members to contact the Governor’s office, our eager supporters were met with obstacles on every occasion. 

First, in order to leave a voicemail for the Governor or his staff, you must call within business hours. Most action takes place outside of business hours when people are done with work, at this point, leaving a voicemail would typically be their only option. But there wasn’t any. After 6 pm, the office automatically removes the voicemail option, leaving no way for constituents to voice their concerns to the Governor after business hours. This is absurd. 

To make matters worse, when our members called the Governor’s office to oppose HB 741, many of them reported to us that no one was answering the phone. Instead, they were being forwarded to another number which then hung up on them. Repeatedly. This was at 10 am on a Friday. 

If constituents cannot reach the Governor in the morning and they can’t leave a voicemail after business hours, then when can we reach him? It seems that our Governor simply does not want to hear from his constituents.   

Despite these challenges, we continue to keep up the pressure on the Governor to veto HB 741. On March 9, our Chispa Florida program held a phonebank “en Español” with 10 of their “Promotores” to educate the Latino communities about the latest news on net metering in our state. Their “Promotores” made 213 calls to urge the community to call Governor DeSantis to encourage him to veto HB 741. 

We put in the work this session to stop this bill. Regardless of the outcome, I am proud of how we all came together across the state, both online and in-person to fight for rooftop solar. I am very encouraged by the great turnout we have had at our phonebanking events and look forward to deepening this work during the next session. 

Thank you to each volunteer that powered our work this session. Whether you showed up to a Zoom room or the Chispa office, the time you spent volunteering with us had a massive impact and we’re happy to have you join us in this work.

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