Solar Energy & Net Metering
Arizona can and should be the solar capital of the world. We can be a leader in solar energy research and development and in producing power from our abundant sunshine while creating jobs and wealth for our state. APS (Arizona Public Service) and the solar industry (in particular those installing solar panels on homes) are at war with each other … have you seen the TV commercials… about the financial arrangements between the utility company and homeowners with rooftop solar. Current Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) policy provides a significant incentive for homeowners to install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and feed this power back into the local electric distribution line. And with “net metering” policies, solar producing homeowners are billed based on the net of the electricity they use from their local utility minus the excess solar electricity they produced beyond their own need which was sent into the utility distribution system.
APS argues that solar users do not pay their fair share of the cost for maintaining the electricity production and distribution system from which they still benefit and APS also argues electric utilities are required to pay too much for the power homeowners are producing. The rooftop solar industry argues first, that homeowners who have invested in solar are already providing benefits to APS customers in excess of what APS pays them and, second, that the proposals by APS would significantly reduce rooftop solar installations and ruin the industry. I am sure you would not be surprised to learn that APS and the Solar Industry both have studies proving their points and that they both undervalue the points made by their opponent.
Here is what I believe: ..... click on read more ......
- We need ACC Commissioners who are able to independently assess the at times complicated economic and policy arguments made in cases such as this and determine what is both fair to customers and in the best long term interests of Arizona
- Homeowners with rooftop solar connected to the electricity grid do benefit from this grid and should pay a fair share of the costs
- All Arizonan’s benefit from the investment made by individual homeowners to produce solar energy and this investment should be encouraged, and with innovations in smarter electricity distribution systems and managing of our electricity demands these benefits will increase
- Approximately 2% of APS and 0.7% of SRP customers have installed solar panels, we will all benefit from continuing to increase homeowner installation of rooftop solar
- As conditions evolve the arrangements for new net metering contracts and solar rebates and tax credits should also evolve. I believe a small additional charge to homeowners installing solar for the benefits they receive from being connected to the grid may be appropriate
- As an ACC Commissioner, I will support rooftop solar to meet household needs and will pursue policies that continue to make rooftop solar a good homeowner investment decision and one from which all Arizonan’s can benefit
- The APS request for changes to net metering are best resolved in the context of a full rate case where all costs and benefits are fully evaluated and this issue can be made part of the next APS rate case (which is tentatively slated for occurring in 2015). In addition, the Corporation Commission should initiate a rigorous, objective and forward looking evaluation of the costs, benefits and rate impacts of current and future energy supplies, including solar and other renewable resources, and incorporate this information into the hearings and decisions on net metering.
The ACC is expected to discuss this issue during their November 13-14 open meeting. The agenda will be posted in advance of the meeting at: Click Here for ACC Agendas
If you would like more information on residential solar and the net metering debate, please check out these links to a few key articles and other related materials:
- The Residential Utility Customers Office (RUCO) is a state agency created to represent Arizona utility customers before the ACC. RUCO recently released their net metering proposal. The RUCO website provides considerable information on this issue. Click Here
- The Tucson Weekly ran a comprehensive feature article on September 26, 2013. Click Here
- Arizona Republic’s summer feature on solar energy issues and links to their most recent articles, including a summary of the net metering proposals from APS, the solar industry, ACC staff and RUCO. Click Here
- The Huffington Post has also been contributing blogs on Arizona’s solar and utility issues. Here is a link to a recent post. Click Here