The city of South Miami is planning to mandate solar panels on all new homes. The legislation passed the first two readings and is expected to pass the final reading on Tuesday. It would make South Miami the first city in Florida, and fifth in the nation, to mandate solar panels on new homes.
The legislation was approved late Wednesday evening by the city commission 4-1. The mandate would require new homes with an area greater than 1,000 square feet to have solar panels on the roof. Those homeowners who increase the square footage of their homes by 75 percent or more also have to install solar power.
South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard said that it will not only benefit the environment and help fight against climate change but it will also dramatically reduce the electric bills of homeowners.
“My electric bill last month was $9.41," Stoddard said, who has solar on his home as well.
There was vocal opposition to the legislation.
"Florida Power and Light immediately contacted us and they were anxious about it," Stoddard said. "And they had two or three people from West Palm Beach drive down and oppose it. Then they got the Realtors stirred up and a lobbying firm from Washington, D.C. got involved."
In a statement, the lobbying firm R-Street said it is disappointed in the passage of the legislation because it’s going to increase the price of homes in a city where cost-of-living is already higher than the national average.
Douglas Rill with Century 21 in West Palm Beach said solar is still too expensive to make it mandatory for new home owners.
“It’s a lovely goal to reach that all homes have solar on it," Rill said. "But to make it a requirement would have a dampening effect on new housing and huge effect on the new developers.”
Stoddard disagrees with critics.
“They’re wrong they don’t know the data," Stoddard said. “They found that solar sell faster and they sell for enough more to not only cover the cost of the solar but a little bit extra on top of that. So the developers and the home owners benefit. Everybody benefits except for two groups: big oil and big utilities.”
The city of West Palm Beach is planning to be 100 percent sustainable by 2023 or 2025 but city officials have not yet decided exactly how it will achieve those goals and if a solar mandate would be part of that.