By Zac Anderson
A Sarasota County rancher and environmentalist spent $500,000 for one of the largest private solar projects in Florida, expecting big savings on energy costs while setting an example for others to follow.
But instead of cutting her monthly energy bills from roughly $5,000 to $1,000, Mary Clark's 300-panel solar array has saved little. Florida Power & Light buys the excess energy from Clark's ranch and sells it back to her for twice as much.
Though legal, the charges reveal flaws in a new state law designed to promote solar power by reimbursing private producers for their excess energy.
Clark's experience underscores the influence big utilities wield in Florida, as the state moves tentatively to diversify from fossil fuels into more renewable energy sources.