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APS’ view: Expanding the solar market in Arizona

At APS we are always planning for what’s next in Arizona’s energy future, and much of this focus has been on making sure energy in this state is sustainable for the long term. Our customers tell us they want more opportunities for rooftop solar, and we’ve listened and proposed a program that will bring more solar energy to the state.

APS has proposed an expansion of our existing AZ Sun Program to install solar on 3,000 rooftops across the state — no credit score required, no cost to the customer. This program is particularly beneficial to our customers who do not have the financing capability or credit requirement demanded by solar leasing companies, or who simply want to do business with a company like APS that they know and trust.

Our program opens the door for widespread rooftop solar deployment in a way that it has never been open before. In fact, APS will pay participating customers $30 a month for their roof space, and the energy produced by the panels will flow to the grid for use by all customers.

While this will be our largest residential rooftop solar installation to date, installing rooftop solar isn’t new for APS. In 2010, we launched a program to install solar on 125 homes in a single Flagstaff neighborhood, and this enabled us to study and prepare for today’s increased demand.

Reputable Arizona installers, like those represented by the Arizona Solar Deployment Alliance, support the program. ASDA has worked with us to define and structure this program to keep installation business and jobs within Arizona, with APS standing behind the product so customers will never have to wonder who owns the system or who they should call if it breaks.

Our program benefits all APS customers, not just those who can afford to buy or lease a system. In addition, we will install these systems to the greatest benefit of the grid, which is important to everyone.

We will position the majority of the installations facing west or southwest, allowing panels to generate the most amount of energy later in the afternoon, when our customers’ demand for electricity is highest. We will target specific neighborhoods that need additional generation support, and we will utilize advanced electrical components for power quality that enhance the way we generate and deliver power. These system benefits can be provided without subsidies.

The program also will benefit from the transparency that comes with a regulated company. The Arizona Corporation Commission, the Residential Utility Consumer’s Office and several other groups will all have the opportunity to help shape the program to align with what is best for Arizona and APS customers.

With this proposed program, we will make rooftop solar an option for more customers and continue Arizona’s leadership in solar development. We have a real opportunity to provide innovative leadership for other states to model, while creating a brighter energy future for Arizona, and bringing solar to customers who can’t otherwise afford it.

— Marc Romito is APS’ manager of renewable energy.

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