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'Smart Solar' Court Decision To Come After Feb. 1

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A group spearheading a solar-energy initiative for the 2016 ballot has submitted more than 475,000 petition signatures to the state --- but faces a wait before finding out if the Florida Supreme Court will sign off on the proposal.

"Consumers for Smart Solar," which is backed by major utilities, must submit a total of 683,149 valid signatures by Feb. 1.

But to qualify for the ballot, it also needs Supreme Court approval of the proposed ballot wording. The Supreme Court on Monday issued an order that said parties are required to file briefs by Jan. 11, with answer briefs due by Feb. 1.

That means Consumers for Smart Solar faces the possibility of completing the costly petition-gathering process without knowing whether the proposed constitutional amendment meets the Supreme Court legal tests. As of early Monday evening, the group had submitted 475,134 petition signatures.

The Consumers for Smart Solar proposal is one of two rival solar-energy initiatives proposed for the November 2016 ballot.

Last week, backers of the other initiative, known as "Floridians for Solar Choice," acknowledged that they might not meet the requirement for submitting petition signatures and have started exploring options to get on the 2018 ballot.

Floridians for Solar Choice, which has received Supreme Court approval, had submitted 272,898 signatures as of early Monday evening, according to the state Division of Elections website.

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