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article imageSouth Miami is first city in state to mandate solar panels

By Karen Graham     Jul 20, 2017 in Environment
Miami - South Miami, Florida has become the first city in the state to require new homes to include rooftop solar installations, thanks to a teenage girl who helped to write the measure.
The solar panel measure that will go into effect in mid-September actually dates back to over a year ago, when then 16-year-old Delaney Reynolds, a high school student from Miami-Dade County, wrote to half a dozen mayors of cities in the state, urging them to consider requiring their citizens to adopt solar energy.
Reynolds' interest in a solar panel measure came about after reading about a similar measure passed in San Francisco, the first major U.S. city to require rooftop solar for new construction.
The first person to answer Raynolds' letter was South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard. "Climate change is the biggest issue that my generation will ever face in our lifetime," Reynolds said. "We're going to be the ones who inherit this mess, and we're going to be the ones to solve it as well."
 The number of people working in the renewables sector could reach 24 million by 2030  more than off...
"The number of people working in the renewables sector could reach 24 million by 2030, more than offsetting fossil-fuel job losses and becoming a major economic driver around the world.," says the IRENA report.
EDF Report
Stoddard is a strong advocate for mitigating the effects of climate change. Two years ago, he passed a resolution, urging state lawmakers to allow citizens to buy solar power from sources other than power companies. However, despite his success, Florida and solar energy have a rather complicated history, according to Inside Climate News.
Stoddard invited Reynolds to help in writing the measure, and the mayor says that since then, he and his staff have heard from a number of officials in other cities, such as St. Petersburg and Orlando expressing interest in replicating the measure.
On Tuesday, the measure passed with a vote of 4 to 1, with South Miami commissioner Josh Liebman casting the one dissenting vote because he said the new law infringes on people's rights to make choices and his concerns over the impact the law will have on utility companies fees that are paid to the city.
Part of Florida s toxic algae bloom.
Part of Florida's toxic algae bloom.
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The new ordinance requires that in new home construction, 175 square feet of solar paneling is to be installed per 1,000 square feet of sunlit roof area. Homes being renovated where 75 percent or more of the structure is involved, or homes extended by 75 percent or more would also come under the new ordinance.
Florida's bizarre relationship with climate change mitigation
For many years now, Florida has been an environmental disaster zone, being hit by devastating hurricanes, algae filled waterways, the ecological deterioration of the Everglades, and flooding, just to name a few things. And while most Floridians have expressed some concerns over "climate change," those two words are not used in public.
The Miami New Times noted last month that Republican Governor Rick Scott has been fighting all month with some former state employees over allegations his administration had forbidden them to use the words "climate change," replacing them with a rather vague sounding "atmospheric reemployment."
The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan  the world's largest ecosystem restoration projec...
The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, the world's largest ecosystem restoration project, has made little progress since it was launched in 2000
RHONA WISE, AFP
Then, last year, Motherboard reported on a statewide battle between consumers and power companies over a ballot measure that would have prevented third-party solar panel sources from competing against power companies. The amendment failed by a small margin, and it is important nationally because 72 percent of solar panels come from third-party sources.
And don't think that South Miami was let off the hook in being allowed to pass the solar panel ordinance. Believe it or not, but a Washington D.C.-based organization called Family Businesses for Affordable Energy launched a well-financed campaign to try and work up opposition city-wide.
They started with hundreds of robocalls before the vote and followed up with letters. According to the group's website, they are a coalition of businesses supporting lower energy prices and have lobbied for the National Association of Electrical Distributors, which represents electric supply companies.
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