APS: $9 million spent on net metering, energy deregulation PR

Evan Wyloge//November 4, 2013

APS: $9 million spent on net metering, energy deregulation PR

Evan Wyloge//November 4, 2013

Arizona campaign contribution limitsAs of September 30, Arizona Public Service’s parent organization had spent $9 million – more than every 2010 gubernatorial campaign combined – in the fight over Arizona’s solar incentives and deregulation of the utility market, according to the company’s most recent earnings report.

APS wants to cut in half a key rooftop solar panel incentive. The utility’s executives have argued that rooftop solar panel users avoid infrastructure maintenance costs, threatening the utility’s long-term business viability. Earlier this year, APS also fought against now-defeated proposals to deregulate Arizona’s energy industry, which would have challenged APS business model more drastically.

Pinnacle West Capital Corp.’s third quarter earnings report does not itemize the costs or describe how much money has been spent on each of the two issues. But by Wednesday of this week, some of those details could be disclosed. Corporation Commissioner Bob Burns, one of the state’s five utility regulators, asked APS to provide an account of their public relations spending on net metering by Nov. 6.

Alan Bunnell, a spokesman for Pinnacle West, said the $9 million has been spent to cover legal costs, consulting fees, communication and other costs.

APS executives are preparing a response for Burns’ request, Bunnell said, and more details should be available once it is ready.

He stressed that the multi-million dollar campaign has been financed by shareholder profits, not APS customers’ monthly energy bills.

Pinnacle West made $226.2 million in profit, or $2.04 per share, during the third quarter.

Burns also asked for an account of the money spent by solar industry associations to combat APS over the issue.

Jason Rose, a consultant working on behalf of those organizations, said the groups will submit details of their spending Tuesday.