After investing in green technology, Florida's solar rebate program remains unpaid in full for some
Thousands say they are still owed money
Jackie Callaway , WPTV Staff
10:16 PM, Mar 8, 2013
5:41 PM, Mar 11, 2013
TAMPA - Green technology works, but it comes with a price. A rooftop solar system set Mike Spinella back $36,000. He says he would never have bought it, had he known Tallahassee would break its promise to thousands of homeowners, just like him.
Kevin Minogue made a similar investment, and spent $30,000 on his system.
In 2006, the State of Florida made it worthwhile, offering a solar rebate of up to $20,000. Money the homeowners counted on to pay back the loans.
But then state lawmakers voted to cut the rebates in half. Instead of $20,000, both received checks for a little over $10,000.
They are among 11,000 Floridians still waiting for the state to fulfill $26 million in solar rebate promises that never came through.
James Murley recalls the program and it's problems. In 2008, he was appointed chair of a newly formed solar panel commission. It advised state lawmakers on energy and climate policy, but Murley says the program was over extended and under-funded.
Then the state tapped into federal stimulus dollars just to pay off solar promises they already approved. Still, Murley says, the state continued to accept applications.
Patrick Sheehan is the director of the state's new Office of Energy. He doesn't see lawmakers taking up the issue this legislative session, as it would cost over $25 million to fill all those rebate promises.
Meanwhile, the 11,000 who were shorted can do little more than pester state lawmakers to reinstate what was originally promised.
There are no plans right now to refund the remaining 11,000 consumers the full rebate they were promised.
You can make your feelings known to your local lawmaker on this subject.