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HomeBlogArizona's power play: Rooftop solar users hit with a new 'discriminatory' charge.

Arizona's power play: Rooftop solar users hit with a new 'discriminatory' charge.

2024-03-05

Arizona's power move: The ACC greenlights a request from major utility APS to hike up electricity rates across the board. They're not stopping there—they're slapping fixed charges on everyone, with rooftop solar users taking the biggest hit.

 

ACC Chair Jim O'Connor and three Republican members gave the nod to the rate plan, admitting they didn't fully grasp its impact on customer bills. Brace yourselves, folks, because bills are set to jump by a hefty 8%, way above inflation.

 

APS President Ted Geisler spilled the beans, predicting a $10 to $12 monthly increase for regular customers and a whopping $15 for those with rooftop solar setups. And if you thought that was rough, remember, Arizona already cut rooftop solar export rates last summer. Tough times for solar enthusiasts.

 

The ACC gave the green light to APS's rate hike without fully grasping its impact. Now, the Arizona Public Interest Research Group Education Fund wants a rethink. They're pushing for APS to spill the beans on the exact hit customers will take, under oath.

 

Diane Brown, in her appeal, insists on comprehensive data and APS execs swearing in before any talk. According to her, the commission dropped the ball by not asking the tough questions before giving the rate plan a thumbs up.

 

Michael O'Donnell from Sunsolar Solutions isn't mincing words. He calls the proposal "truly outrageous." Solar users already cough up $80 monthly for grid connection, and with the new rates, brace yourselves for $120 bills. And get this, it hits even those generating 100% of their power from their rooftop setups. Tough break.

 

In the land of perpetual sun, you'd expect Arizona to lead the rooftop solar game. But nope, despite the scorching rays, soaring rates, and a constant need for AC, Arizona isn't shining in the solar market. The export rates are dragging, thanks to the ACC greenlighting cuts, reductions, and demand charges on solar users.

 

Christopher Worley from Sunrun doesn't mince words, calling Arizona a tough spot for solar businesses. Tacking on unsupported, discriminatory charges to already low export rates? It's a hit to solar customers, a blow to the industry, and a raw deal for ratepayers. Tough times for solar in the Grand Canyon State.

 

APS is throwing a curveball, slapping retroactive charges on rooftop solar users, even those who inked net metering deals. This move, labeled discriminatory, hits at the core goals of fostering energy independence, bill predictability, and slashing carbon footprints. It's a shaky play that shakes consumer confidence in solar as a reliable investment.

 

Christopher Worley isn't holding back, stating that retroactive policies like these mess with market certainty and leave customers frustrated.

 

Why the hit on solar wallets? APS claims it's about upgrading transmission and dealing with "cost-shift issues." This cost-shift argument, echoed nationwide, suggests non-solar users are bankrolling solar customers, driving up utility costs. A move that's raising eyebrows and tempers.

 

When net metering rates took a hit last summer, APS threw around figures, citing a hefty $800 to $1000 yearly cost shift within the residential ratepayer class. That's a whopping $18 million in cross-subsidization, they claimed.

 

But hold on, studies from Berkeley Labs and state groups are busting this utility narrative wide open. According to Berkeley Labs, with current rooftop solar adoption, the supposed cost shift is next to nothing. Their modeling shows rooftop solar actually saves costs across the board. Even at Arizona's 10% solar adoption rate, the alleged cost shift shrinks to a tiny $0.005/kWh. Looks like the numbers aren't adding up as claimed.

 

Adding a twist to the rate hike saga, amendments are now steering the cost shift in the opposite direction. Enter Amendment 3, spearheaded by O'Connor. It throws APS into running a program tapping into customers' rooftop solar and batteries to export power during peak demand hours.

 

Christopher Worley is all for it, stating that programs like these make the most of solar customers' investments, ultimately cutting costs for everyone.

 

The public has spoken loud and clear. Over 2,000 individuals and groups in Arizona have thrown in their two cents on the rate hike, and the consensus is a resounding no. Opposition is echoing through the state.

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