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APS expected to seek 400% solar fee increase

Solar panels on house roofArizona Public Service hopes to more than quadruple the monthly fee it charges to solar customers, advocates for the rooftop solar industry say.

The move comes just weeks after the Salt River Project board approved a solar charge on users in its territory that is expected to average $50 per month.

Solar leasers and industry experts predicted APS would ask the Arizona Corporation Commission for an increase to the $5 monthly fee the Commission approved in 2013. Those predictions were bolstered when Prosper, an advocacy group that spent more than $1 million on APS’s behalf in 2013 supporting the utility’s solar surcharge, voiced support to SRP’s rate hike.

The fees are used to offset solar customers’ grid usage.

APS is meeting with commissioners and staff to discuss a potential proposal to increase the solar fee, Corporation Commission spokeswoman Rebecca Wilder confirmed Friday morning.

“There’s not a filing before the Commission, so the Commission can’t speak to any potential proposal until it has been filed,” she said.

David Tenney, the director of the Residential Utility Consumer Office, confirmed that his agency has met with APS, but said he hasn’t seen any concrete details of a plan.

“They certainly indicated that it’s something they’re looking at,” Tenney said of an increased fee on solar users.

In 2013, APS originally proposed a solar charge that would have cut the savings of customers with rooftop solar systems from almost 70 percent of their electricity bills to roughly about 20 percent. According to the Corporation Commission’s analysis, that would have reduced customers’ savings from $134 annually to only $35.

The details of a proposal aren’t known yet, but pro-solar group Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed, or TUSK, said today that APS would ask for an increase to $21 per month.

That figure comes from a 2013 report by RUCO, which said the solar fee should start at $1 per kilowatt of solar generated, then gradually grow to $3 per kilowatt. The average residential solar unit produces seven kilowatts per month, meaning the fee would max out at $21 per month.

Then-director of RUCO Pat Quinn stressed that the fee increase should be incremental.

“Anything more aggressive could start to trigger rapid declines in installations and significantly hurt the nascent solar industry,” the RUCO report says.

TUSK sent out a press release Friday morning decrying the potential increase.

“Rooftop solar power is under siege from utilities, through utility-backed anti-solar legislation and harmful rate hikes designed to drive the popular energy choice from Arizona,” the TUSK release says.

The Alliance for Solar Choice attorney Court Rich said he’s been told APS will unveil the proposal before the end of the month.

APS isn’t due for a rate case until 2016, so any proposal for a solar fee would happen outside of the ratemaking process.

APS said dialogue with the commission and stakeholders is ongoing, and the $5 per month solar charge was an interim provision. The decision in 2013 says explicitly that the commission can adjust the charge, according to APS.

“The only breaking news on this issue is that it looks like Arizona needs to brace itself for another political circus orchestrated by TUSK and TASC,” a statement from APS spokesman Jim McDonald says. “Instead of engaging in an honest discussion about how to ensure the sustained growth of solar in Arizona, this latest stunt repeats the same tired distortions and character attacks that long ago lost credibility with anyone serious about Arizona’s energy future.”

APS says people are using electricity differently, which requires a stable, modern grid system. In order to sustain such a grid system, “the way electricity is priced also needs to evolve over time.”

Despite APS acknowledgement that the utility is in talks with the commission, McDonald said “it would be premature to discuss future filings.”

12 comments

  1. People of AZ, you folks need to stand up, suggest convert your solar to 12, 24 or 48 DC, obtain batteries/storage cells, add a elec sub-panel, convert your lighting , maybe even your A/C -swamp coolers and turn off those 100-200 amp breaker boxes, key is reduce consumption, easiest way is lower voltage and get off Alternating current.
    You can do it!! Starts with the builders too, Shea/Del Webb, should be wiring for low voltage. Been away 15 years not sure if they are still building in AZ.

  2. Who will step forward to verbalize that the emperor is wearing no clothes? Forget oil prices, the electric utility industry is out of gas. Time to tear up the old social contract and get real about our future. Sorry utility shareholders, you lose. The separation of grid owners from generation owners must be completed. If a revolution is required, so be it. We need to get on with the business at hand and tell these rich so-and-so’s to find some other toy to play with.

  3. Outrageous behavior on the part of corporate monopoly APS and … even though this article doesn’t focus on the other corporate monopoly SRP ….they to are acting outrageously against consumers of roof top solar as well … the behavior of Democrats voting along with Dark Money entities like APS and SRP will not not go un-exposed … so … thank you to the Democrats in the Arizona legislature who stand up against these corporate monopolies APS and SRP and to those Vichy Dino Democrats that help them … your constituents and your party will not forget …
    Leonard Clark
    Democratic and Progressive activist
    3/14/15

  4. It is no surprise that the interest is for full support of the shareholders or the fees would not be imposed. They can give all the technical excuses, but when it comes down to it, there are many that do not want to lose on their risk of betting on their investments. You have to know when to hold them and know when to fold them. We the people must keep the legislators from siding with investos who lobby to keep the corruption alive. We need solar to be the best investment and energy independence is the goal. Lets stop protecting the gamblers and do what’s best for the people. Time to yell at our legislators and remind them that the country belongs to the people.

  5. Great items from you, man. I have be aware your stuff previous to and you’re just too excellent.

    I actually like what you’ve acquired right here, certainly like what you’re saying and the way through which you say it.
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  6. The way the SRP and APS are treating solar customers is sickening. I will convert to a battery / off-grid solution if they continue to pursue this treatment of customers.

  7. So I may be a bit naive for asking, but I was considering getting solar panels for our home… The question how can we stop them from raising those prices, do we truly have a say?

  8. we started our solar power contract in oct 2014. we have been trying to get aps to put a meter on our solar side for almost 3 months and we are still wateing! first the country said i did not have a final insp. for flood controll, i should have quite right there and moved! I have to final inspection papers from 2005-6 and they said i have to buy a new permite. got that done, and had 48 pannels put on my shop, had aditch run 200′ to the aps box. they told me i had to have a new box for solar and to reduce my 200 amp to 175 solar?? iwa told it would take 30 to 45 days to get the box? I was able to get pne over night if i wanted to. mean while they had left my ditch open for my dogs lto brake there legs or my 80 lb tortis to fall in and die! the inspector from the county said every thing was ok and emailed aps. feb 18 2015. i have been told by aps that my paper work has been delayed because they need a modle # from the box witch the county ins sent when he turned the final ins papers in!! still waiting??? the co that put the solar pan and system in did a good job. Now i find out I lhave to pay for sunshine in AZ to aps? i am still waiting for a meter that puts solar back in to the grid at like 10C on the 1.00 I have not said any names of the solar co or installer yet but if you want to know who email me ericgwhitley@yahoo.com i still have alot more but i am venting !!!!

  9. I am waiting on the final inspection from APS also… Solar system has been complete for seven weeks, city has inspected and approved, just waiting on APS. Not sure how long it takes to send someone out to inspect but this is getting ridiculous…

  10. Interesting how both APS and SRP have been (and still are) sending emails directly to customers, as well as information contained on their respective websites in giving their customers an education in energy savings to potentially reduce their KW hour usage month-over-month by the incentives that they themselves offer. Things like “replacing your door weather stripping, converting to a much more efficient LED light bulb throughout the home, adding insulation to the attic or walls or garage door, etc. These are the same companies here in Arizona that offered incentives for installing rooftop solar in the first place. And now the incentives are all but gone.
    And now they want to increase the fee for solar customers because they need to be paying their fair share to be connected to “the grid.” Truth be told, solar customers who produce more energy than they consume is actually of great benefit to the utility companies as the power that flows onto the grid reduces the load that the utility would otherwise have to compensate for. Then, at the end of the year, they will pay you for the excess you have delivered for a fraction of what they charge to wipe the slate clean and start all over in January, a month that is one of the lowest producing solar months of the year.
    If the utilities were to continue to support solar as they have in the past, then they could be using an immense amount of energy to spread around and sell at a better profit margin than what it takes them to produce on their own. But that is the rub- utilities are no longer solar friendly primarily because they feel that they are losing control, and smart people already know that it is ALL about power and control in this crazy world we live in.
    One way to (perhaps) minimize the onslaught of new and bigger fees would be to donate your unused electricity to those folks who are struggling to pay their bills, which makes you a great humanitarian. It is really hard to argue a rate increase for your rooftop solar when you are DIRECTLY benefiting those who are less fortunate than others. Sort of like “add a dollar to your bill for needy families.”
    Food for thought……….

  11. In answer to my question posed over a year ago (Who will step forward to verbalize that the emperor is wearing no clothes? – see post above), a group has stepped forward. They are called Yes on AZ Solar & their website is at yesonazsolar.com. They are promoting a revision to the AZ constitution to prevent regulated AZ utilities from punishing solar customers based on questionable reasoning. This activity is a direct answer to jmc’s question: The question (is) how can we stop them from raising those prices, do we truly have a say? – see post above. You can help stop them by assisting Yes on AZ Solar to get 225,000 signatures by early July. Go to their website and take action. Thanks.

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