Proposal circulating would leave big utilities out of such transactions

As consumer groups, political organizations ranging across the spectrum of philosophies from liberal to conservative, utilities, and others consider whether the energy marketplace system in Florida should be changed to allow consumers and businesses to sell excess solar-generated power directly to buyers, the most recent Saint Leo University Polling Institute Florida survey finds most respondents in favor of the idea.

A single question on the politics of solar power sales was included in the online survey conducted with 535 respondents in the period from May 25 to 31. The margin of error for the results is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

The full question and responses generated are as follows:

A proposed Florida constitutional amendment would allow businesses and individuals to   generate and sell solar power to other consumers without having to sell the power to utility companies. Do you favor or oppose allowing businesses and individuals to sell solar power directly to other consumers?

28% Strongly support
50% Somewhat support
9% Somewhat oppose
4% Strongly oppose
9% Don’t know / unsure


If the proposed amendment is allowed to move forward—its opponents are challenging this in court—then voters would see on their 2016 election ballots a question asking whether they want the amendment or not. The wording of the proposed amendment specifies parameters to “a constitutional right to produce up to two megawatts of solar power and sell that power directly to others at the same or contiguous property.” According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (a trade group), a megawatt of solar energy can power, on average in America, 164 homes, with that sum varying from state to state depending upon factors including the amount of sunshine available, temperature, wind, and average household energy consumption.

Upon reviewing the polling results, Frank Orlando, instructor of political science at Saint Leo University, said: “The opponents of the solar energy initiative appear to have their work cut out for them.  If they are not able to stop the issue from reaching the ballot, they will need to turn public opinion away from what looks like overwhelming support.  Even though voters may not be perfectly informed of the details, they like the idea of less regulation and more renewable energy.  When the Sierra Club and various Tea Party factions get on the same side of an issue, it is difficult to find constituencies that are opposed.  The utility sector will clearly have the resources to fight a strong campaign, but it remains to be seen whether they can pour enough money into the debate to make concerns about utility prices for low-income residents an issue that will obstruct passage.”

In the Saint Leo University Polling Institute’s March 2015 statewide survey, respondents answered another question about consumer use of solar power, asked in the context of what personal steps people would pursue to reduce carbon pollution. In that survey, 41 percent said they would be willing to install or purchase alternative energy sources such as solar for their homes. By contrast, only 14 percent said they had already done so. That survey was taken by 522 Florida residents and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

About the Saint Leo University Polling Institute/Methodology

This Saint Leo University poll of 535 Florida adults, including 410 likely voters, was conducted between May 25 and May 31, 2015. The margin of error on political questions (of likely voters only) is approximately 4.5 percent +/- with a 95 percent confidence level. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive —usually $1 dollar deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

Full Survey Results

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute has posted full results in table form here.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University is a regionally accredited, liberal-arts-based institution known for an inclusive Catholic heritage, enduring values, and capacity for innovation. The school was chartered in 1889 by Catholic Benedictine monks in rural Pasco County, FL, making Saint Leo the first Catholic college in the state. Saint Leo provides access to education to people of all faiths, emphasizing the Benedictine philosophy of balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit.

The university welcomes learners from all generations and backgrounds, from civilian occupations and the armed forces, and from all 50 states and more than 60 nations. Saint Leo’s 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students may elect to study at the beautiful University Campus in Florida, at more than 40 teaching locations in seven states, or online from other locations. The university’s degree programs range from the associate to the doctorate. Throughout these rich offerings, Saint Leo develops principled leaders for a challenging world.

Saint Leo University boasts nearly 80,000 alumni in all 50 states, Washington, DC, five U.S. territories, and 72 countries.

Media Contacts: Kim Payne, staff writer and media coordinator, at or (352) 588-7233/(717) 798-1508 or Jo-Ann Johnston, academic communications manager, at or (352) 588-8237/ (352) 467-0843.