You may have seen the guy standing with a sign under the Veteran’s Parkway overpass or the truck driving up and down Del Prado Boulevard protesting Cape Coral’s proposed Public Service Tax that will “increase your electric bill by 10%.” Just like other utility electric taxes, you can beat the tax with simple conservation efforts, but also with solar electricity!
First to clarify, the tax would not actually raise any bill by 10%. The currently proposed 10% tax would be assessed on the customer charge and base utility rate only, excluding the power cost adjustment and all other taxes and fees. The real impact would be closer to 7% of the total bill. One of the major complaints is that it doesn’t tax unimproved property owners and many landlords whose tenants foot the bill. The tax is seen as unfair by many as a result. It also penalizes heavy energy users, even if their physical footprint or assessed property value is very low. It doesn’t take into consideration the impact of the taxpayer on public services, either. There is a Q&A on the subject from the City Manager dated 4/22/13 that you can download here.
Now that that’s out of the way, how can you reduce the impact of the proposed tax with solar electricity? Fortunately, LCEC has a netmetering program that allows you to offset your electrical usage with energy produced with solar panels. A grid-interactive photovoltaic (solar electric) system produces energy for your home that reduces your dependence on energy delivered by LCEC, and even sends excess energy back to the utility grid, further reducing your “net metered” electricity consumption. That means you have a lower billed energy use, and thus a lower tax!
Since other taxes on your bill are computed based on the net amount of energy consumed each month, those taxes are also reduced proportionately. If you completely offset your electrical consumption with solar electricity, your taxes will be reduced to almost zero – only small fixed taxes and tax on the base customer charge would be applicable.
Whether you’re ready to take the plunge and reduce your net energy consumption to zero, or you want to get started in solar energy with a small solar electric system or other solar product, I am ready to help my Southwest Florida neighbors fight against the threat of increased electricity prices and taxes.