Resilience is Illegal in Florida

Let’s say you live in Florida. Yes, I know, that requires us to assume you are pretty oblivious to the rising seas and corrosive stupidity assailing the state from every direction, but let’s just say you live in Florida. No offense.

You’re smart enough to know that life in Hurricane Alley could get difficult, and you live after all in the Sunshine State, so you installed solar panels on your roof, enough to run your house, just in case. Now, we just assumed you were dense enough to choose to live in Florida, so let’s assume, on the other side of the ledger, that you are smart enough to have avoided some of the major pitfalls of the rooftop solar business.    

Number one, you avoided the trap of the new solar panels with the built-in inverters. Designed for and marketed to the accountants among us, who see solar panels primarily as a way to reduce power bills, these new-age solar panels save you the trouble of buying and installing a separate inverter to bump the output from 12 volts — what the panels produce — to 120 volts — what most things in your house require.

You didn’t do that because it gradually dawned on you — they never tell you this up front — that the panels require power from the grid to run the inverters. Know what that means? In a power outage, your new solar panels are useless. When the grid is down, your panels will churn out tons of 12 volt current that you can’t use because you can’t plug your panels into the grid. Now, because you’re smart about these things, you didn’t buy the new solar panels. To you, saving a few bucks by selling your excess solar-panel output to the power company is not as important as saving your butt in an emergency.

Okay, so far so good. But this is where you run into Florida Power and Light(FPL), the state’s monopolistic and avaricious electric utility company. Snag #1: If you install more than 10 kilowatts worth of solar panels, you must pay FPL up to $1,000 for the privilege. Not for the panels, not for anything but the privilege. Why? Because they can.

Snag #2:  You are not going to be allowed to go off the grid. Even if you have installed enough solar power to run your house  and you want to do it, you are required by law to connect your system to the grid. And you have to pay a monthly fee for that privilege, too.

If you are getting the impression that FPL regulates Florida state government, and not the other way around, you’re getting the right picture. FPL made more than a billion dollars in profits last year, and that’s after spending millions to induce lawmakers to hobble solar panel owners.  

(That’s not all the lobbyists do, of course. After Hurricane Wilma killed the power to 75 per cent of FPL’s customers, the state government girded it legislative loins and insisted that the utility do better next time. The lobbyists put out all the fires with assurances that FPL had “hardened” the grid against hurricane damage and would do much better next time. Next time was Wilma. This time, 90 per cent of FPL’s customers lost power. )

So let’s say you’re one of them, but this time it’s different for you. You’ve spent over $30,000 on a solar system, and your roof is generating all the power you need. You have a switch that disconnects your system from the grid and allows you to use the power you are making while the grid is down.

Snag #3, aka The Big One: You are prohibited by law from throwing that switch.  That’s right. The law, written by FPL, requires you to install the switch and forbids you to use it. The rationale is that you might accidentally back-feed the grid and shock a lineman. You live in Florida, after all, and might not be able to distinguish between the label that says “ON” and the one that says “OFF.”

This is the state that will not permit anyone in government to use the words “climate change,” and that ignores the rising seas that are intruding at high tide into the streets of Miami Beach, Coral Gables, and countless coastal developments.

And you live in this state?



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11 Responses to Resilience is Illegal in Florida

  1. Brian says:

    Another stunning example of the Faustian bargain that so often is “Advanced”, Technological Civilization. It’s interesting to reflect that some of us have grandparents for whom the lingering memory of the promise of “electrification”, never mind “The Grid”, was fantastical hearsay. My, how far we’ve come! Many would now perish (so they say) if their smartphones malfunctioned for more than a few minutes. Perhaps we ought to have had a little more respect for Dunbar’s number, and stayed within its limits. Any better ideas? Stephen Hawking, do you hear me? Elon Musk, do you hear me?

    • Max4241 says:

      Musk knows what to do. Build and/or replace the preexisting with: a planet-wide wind/solar Smart Grid, a planet wide electric transportation network, and planet wide vertical farming systems.

      Basic stuff. You kill all the enemies of planetary survival (save one*) with three stones, everything from methane cow farts to total atmospheric burn-off -resulting from 449 simultaneous nuclear reactor meltdowns and the attendant release of an incalculable amount of loosely stored radioactive GARBAGE.

      Then he reads articles like this one. In one location, Florida, artificial impediments are created that make it damn near impossible for a sliver of the human race, in this case, reasoning Floridians, to advance beyond kindergarten.

      So Elon builds rockets, and dreams of Mars.

      *Nuclear weapons. As long as men have command of competitive armies, those babies are here to stay. No self-respecting desk-bound male warrior sacrifices his surrogate testes for the greater good …except in Game of Thrones, oddly enough, and those are the real ones.

  2. Dennis Mitchell says:

    My brain hurts.

  3. Max4241 says:

    “state government girded its legislative loins”

    Giggle …

    I’ve been a one-track-mind peak oil guy for a long time. Focused solely on -GDP killing!- oil field depletion, I often miss the obvious in the other, better endowed energy sectors. Apparently, gazing in horror at the potential super-abundance of -corpo killing!- cheap & easy wind/solar e-juice, the nukeleo/electric cartels must engage in the hyper-efficient, counter-productive manufacturing of artificial e-juice scarcity.

    Who says counter-productive manufacturing is dead in this country! Hell, at a whim, Goldman Sachs -and their bank-ho* brothers!- can rapidly manufacture the total debt enslavement of proudly independent, shattered and collapsing semi-nation-states. Undoubtedly, if they survive the Great Filter, a galaxy-mobile Goldman -et al.!- will one day manufacture futuristic debt instruments so potent they will destroy and/or enslave entire -monetarily challenged!- star-systems.


    Note: The State of Florida. Such a small and receding target. Such a sun drenched pain-in-the-ass! I mean, what is Florida Power and Light gonna do when the peninsula is still sunny but mostly underwater, move up into Georgia under the name, The Corporation Formerly Known as FP&L, or will they go prosaic and call themselves, Greater Floreorgia Power and Light?

    *Bank-ho. Not a pejorative term -at least not in certain quarterly obsessed Manhattan neighborhoods.

    • Max4241 says:

      Regarding: “quarterly obsessed”

      We are no longer talking about old-school (some nitpickers might say, tragically shortsighted) 3 month blocks any longer. We are not even talking about quarters of say hours, or minutes. No sir! The exponential function is loose and trading at the speed of light.

      We are right now -currently- at this moment …oops, too late!… we were talking about an obsession that was lasting for approximately one quarter of one second.

      That is changing, has changed, or is possibly a time increment that was once moderately impressive in some long gone era.

      Now, holding a stock -because me and my relatively slow SuperC believe in it!- for a quarter of a second is making us both fidgety as all get out.

      Surely, someone will beat us to the punch, if we are volume trading at a pathetic .25/sec max pace.

  4. Tom says:

    Florida seems to be one of the best states to run scams, like “ooh, ooh, my house was damaged (when I moved in 10 years ago and never fixed the damage)” that one applies for re-imbursement from FEMA (or insurance) after a big storm effects the state.

    The former UTILITY company that was magically put into private hands (to avoid, ya know, “socialism”) now pulls stunts like the one above because they can (as Mr. Lewis points out) and it doesn’t end there.
    They get the STATE (meaning YOU, the TAXPAYERS) to foot the bill for any and all damage, overtime for employees and out-of-state help in restoring power, and probably a bonus for the boss for being subjected to stress.

    Once again we see how corporations are the enemy of the citizenry and should all be nationalized (with the people at the top being jailed).

    Thanks for another rousing good-read, Mr. Lewis.

  5. Tom says:

    Continued denial leaves Florida in climate change crosshairs | Editorial


    Many Americans wonder how so many of the nation’s founders and other otherwise decent people were able to rationalize slavery. By the light of their times, though, there wasn’t anything wrong with it and they could not envision prosperity without it.

    Today, the same profit motive underlies the great immorality of climate science denial. Two centuries from now, in a world made more inhospitable to life as we know it, surviving people will again wonder, “How could they?”

  6. Nevada is little better. If you are able, you must tie into the grid. BUT! Being Nevada, you can easily be so far away from the power lines this doesn’t apply. Work-around for Floridians, don’t friggin put panels on the roof. When I lived there, clotheslines were illegal. I just hung a line below the fence line. Now, insulate and shade so you need fans rather than AC, and you are good with a few ground level panels that DON’T hook to the grid, just a few batteries. And can your meat, don’t freeze it. I moved from FL to avoid sea rise, but it is easy to live there without AC.

  7. Max4241 says:

    “When I lived there, clotheslines were illegal.”

    Why was that?

    • The same reason crap like that happens everywhere, “property values”. I believe someone sued under some law encouraging alternate or solar energy and got it overturned, since it is essentially a solar clothes dryer. Not sure it made a difference if you were in a HOA. To be fair, it could have been a city law, not state, so I could be wrong on the details. And it was a long time ago.

  8. Max4241 says:

    “it is essentially a solar clothes dryer”

    It is, by golly. Thanks for the explanation.