Small Monthly Fee Approved in AZ Residential Solar Showdown

The Arizona Corporation Commission voted 3-2 to approve a monthly charge by the utility Arizona Public Service Co. of 70 cents per kilowatt, on customers who install rooftop solar panels after Jan. 1, 2014.

Deciding the contentious net metering issue, a rate case with national implications, the Arizona Corporation Commission ruled Nov. 14 that Arizona Public Service Co., a utility, can charge a rate of 70 cents per kilowatt to customers who install rooftop solar panels after Jan. 1, 2014. APS sought a far higher rate, and solar power interests countered that the company was trying to kill the state's solar industry because it feared the competition. APS argued solar customers shift power costs for lines, repairs, etc. to non-solar customers. The decision was a partial victory for both sides.

The commission directed the utility to provide quarterly reports on the pace of rooftop solar adoption and to file its next rate case in 2015.

"The Arizona Corporation Commission has taken an important step in reforming the state’s net metering policy," said Don Brandt, APS chairman, president, and CEO. "The ACC determined that net metering creates a cost shift. We applaud the ACC for cutting through the rhetoric and focusing on how the cost shift impacts non-solar customers. Of course, having determined that a problem exists, we would have preferred for the ACC to fix it. The proposal adopted by the ACC, and surprisingly championed by the state's consumer advocate RUCO, falls well short of protecting the interests of the one million residential customers who do not have solar panels. We will continue to advocate forcefully for the best interests of our customers and for a sustainable solar policy for Arizona."

Two companies, SolarCity Corp. and Sunrun Inc., install many of the rooftop solar panels in APS territory, which covers 11 of the state's 15 counties. Both companies opposed any fee, arguing along with many solar residential customers that their systems save APS money by reducing the need for new power plants and power lines.

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