Last weekend I was at the Democratic Party annual gala in Hollywood. My room was on the 23rd floor of the event hotel, facing west (I was too cheap to pay for an ocean view), overlooking a vast urban expanse of southeast Florida.
It was only by the second day that it struck me: There were no solar panels on any of the thousands of buildings I could see. Not one. In the "Sunshine State." And because of that, no solar industry jobs.
Forget for a moment that Florida is the land of air conditioners going full blast, costing working families billions of dollars a year we send out of state for the fuel used to generate these massive amounts of electricity. We pay the fifth-highest average monthly electricity bills in the United States.
Remember instead that our neglect of solar energy potential denies working families tens of thousands of good-paying, local, permanent jobs. Florida had only 8,260 solar jobs last year -- barely half those of Massachusetts' 14,582 solar jobs, and far behind California's 100,050 solar jobs -- but could triple that number by 2021, with a modest effort.
Remember also that the median annual wage for a solar panel installer is $39,240, with similar pay levels for solar manufacturing, sales and distribution, and project development -- hundreds of new local businesses created -- and they make up the fastest-growing category of new jobs in America today.
And remember that the sun won't charge you a dime. It is a free, inexhaustible source of energy that any homeowners with solar panels can use -- and sell back whatever excess electricity they don't use. You will own your own electricity.
Solar jobs, new local businesses, and electricity you own are too good for Florida working families to pass up. Yet our electric utilities and our state leadership are no help In fact, they've tried to kill expanded solar with government roadblocks. They even tried last year to put these roadblocks into Florida's constitution.
Voters rebelled against this blatant power grab in 2016 by rejecting this blatant power grab. I'm determined in 2018 to help grow solar industry jobs and help working families realize your own energy destiny. You can count on me.