A recent guest opinion in the June 7 issue of the Arizona Capitol Times “Utility customers have option of installing rooftop solar systems,” authored by the CEOs of several California rooftop solar companies, got only two things right. One was the title.
Our customers do have the option of installing rooftop solar systems.
It’s an option we support, now and for the future. But to preserve that choice without driving up the rates of more than 1 million customers who do not have solar, we must address the current net metering rules.
That is the reason behind the stakeholder workshops we convened earlier this year to evaluate the issue, and that is what will drive the proposal we intend to file with the Arizona Corporation Commission in July.
For these California solar companies to claim otherwise is premature and inaccurate. There has been no discussion of eliminating the compensation rooftop solar customers receive for the power they produce. What we want is to compensate them fairly, and to avoid forcing other customers to pay more to subsidize solar.
Here’s what they are not telling you about net metering: They don’t want to change the current net metering incentive because a change would hurt their bottom lines. The men who penned the column may portray their companies as altruistic and consumer-focused, but they are in Arizona to make money. In fact, despite already receiving millions of dollars in federal tax incentives, SolarCity has sued the federal government demanding additional subsidies from the 2009 Obama Stimulus Plan. The spin being employed by these companies is solely aimed at confusing the net metering issue rather than discussing it.
The Arizona Corporation Commission sets rates to be affordable for all Arizona customers and ensures Arizona’s complex electricity infrastructure is positioned to meet the state’s energy needs reliably and efficiently for years to come. This leads us to the one other thing the solar CEOs got right. The ACC ultimately needs to look out for the interests of all customers when it comes to net metering. Not the corporate interests of Sunrun, SolarCity, Sungevity and Clean Power Finance. To be fair to all customers means that the current net metering rules cannot continue to unfairly shift costs from customers who choose to install rooftop solar systems to those that do not or cannot.
So let’s really look out for Arizona electricity customers. Let’s find a solution that allows customers to have the option of installing solar, compensates them fairly for the energy they produce, and does not raise rates or potentially impact future reliability for our customers. You won’t hear that from these California solar leasing companies because that’s not their obligation — it’s ours.
— Mark Schiavoni is executive vice president, operations for Arizona Public Service Company (APS).