Amendment 1 defeat brings Elon Musk’s SolarCity to the Sunshine State

A SolarCity rooftop panel installation at a Walmart store.
A SolarCity rooftop panel installation at a Walmart store.

Billionaire Elon Musk, better known for his Tesla electric cars and SpaceX rockets, is leading his solar rooftop company, SolarCity, into the Sunshine State after Florida voters rejected the Amendment 1 solar energy proposal last month.

San Mateo, California-based SolarCity last week announced its expansion into Florida in a statement posted on its website, and the company credited Florida voters’ rejection of the Amendment 1 proposal in the November 8 election.

The utility-backed proposal to amend the state constitution would have limited the use of rooftop installations that collect solar power. The proposal failed to win approval from 60 percent of the voters, the threshold for enactment.

Publicly held SolarCity said its expansion “was made possible when the citizens of Florida rejected the anti-solar Amendment 1, which would have made it easier for utilities to add fees to make solar more expensive for customers …Thanks to this vote, solar customers in Florida will continue to receive full retail credit for any excess solar electricity they provide to the grid when they aren’t at home.”

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SolarCity, which turns roofs into paneled solar power collectors, will limit its initial operations in Florida to the Orlando area.

The company said in its announcement December 1 that it “will initially serve customers of Duke Energy and Orlando Utilities Commission in the greater Orlando area, from a local installation center in Clermont, and plans to expand to additional areas of the state in the coming months.”

Shareholders of Palo Alto, California-based Tesla Motors recently voted in favor of a merger of the electric-car manufacturing company with SolarCity.

Musk is the controlling shareholder of SolarCity, Tesla Motors and Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX, a space rocket manufacturer with launch facilities at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Central Florida.