Florida Surges to Top
The residential solar energy sector in Florida has witnessed significant developments and growth in 2023. Florida has surged to the top of the U.S. states in terms of solar installations, a notable achievement given its history of trailing behind states like California and Texas in solar energy adoption. In the first half of 2023, Florida added an impressive 2,499 megawatts (MW) of solar-generation capacity, surpassing the additions made by California and Texas. This rapid growth in solar capacity is not only a record for the state but also contributes to a national record of 32 gigawatts of new solar capacity projected for the United States in 2023, a 52% increase from 2022.
Several factors have contributed to this remarkable growth. The easing of COVID-19-related supply chain challenges, changes in restrictive trade policies, and incentives introduced as part of the Inflation Reduction Act have played pivotal roles. Additionally, anticipated domestic manufacturing investments are expected to further improve supply conditions in the coming years. Notably, a significant portion of Florida’s solar capacity growth is attributed to utility-scale expansion, with major contributions from Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy.
Florida’s residential solar capacity is also on the rise. Homeowners contributed 332 MW of solar capacity during the first half of the year, marking the second-largest residential solar increase in the U.S. There has been a substantial uptick in rooftop solar installations by Florida residents, with the number of customers participating in net metering arrangements with utilities doubling between June 2021 and June 2023. Net metering allows customers who generate excess energy from their rooftop solar panels to deliver it back to the utility company and receive a credit on their bill. This system has been a crucial factor in encouraging residential solar adoption.
However, the future of net metering in Florida has faced some uncertainty. In 2022, a bill that would have phased out net metering credits for new solar installations was vetoed by Governor Ron DeSantis. The bill proposed reducing compensation for excess solar energy and allowing increased charges to make solar owners pay more than non-solar owners. Despite its veto, the debate over net metering highlights the ongoing tension between utility companies and the solar industry. The proposed changes were seen as detrimental to the growth of residential solar power, with advocates arguing that solar provides benefits both to the grid and to society through jobs, economic growth, and carbon reduction.
Future of Solar Energy in Florida
Florida’s residential solar energy sector is experiencing rapid growth and expansion, driven by favorable policies, easing supply chain challenges, and a growing interest in renewable energy sources. The future of net metering and other supportive policies will be crucial in sustaining this growth trajectory and ensuring that the benefits of solar energy are maximized for Florida’s residents and the environment.