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Net metering and the Arizona Corporation Commission

Brandon Cheshire

Brandon Cheshire

I believe many of the Arizona Corporation Commission’s recent decisions to this date surrounding net metering have done more harm than good to our local economy, to businesses like mine, and especially to low-income and middle-class families throughout the state (who would benefit the most from rooftop solar).

These commissioners were elected to represent the people of our state – NOT the utility monopoly that is APS. While I understand many of us could never match the political contributions made by such a large utility, it is not in the best interest of the people to rush a decision that could negatively affect both public perception and the fate of our state for many years to come.

Net metering policies have a detrimental impact on people who can’t afford solar and are faced with higher electricity bills as a result of these policies. In a state like Arizona where we continue to break heat records every year and our cooling season is longer and longer, this MATTERS.

A typical low income household’s cost for basic household energy can represent up to 1/4th or more of that family’s income. We should be making solar energy affordable and accessible – not hindering access.

Families and small businesses depend on affordable electricity to cool and heat the places we spend our time. In these discussions, however, we can’t forget those families who can’t afford an increase in costs. If the only people ultimately able to install solar panels are high-income earners or large corporations, that is not a sustainable future.

The Arizona Corporation Commission should support and help drive a truly independent study that examines the actual impacts of distributed energy on the Arizona grid. A non-biased party could be established or contracted to perform such work. It could be funded by portions of public funds, utility money, and renewable money.

To chip away at rooftop solar in such a rushed and behind-closed-doors manner does not serve the best interests of the people in Arizona. Anyone who reads the news knows there is a major lack of transparency surrounding the last election cycle and this, too, should be addressed.

In this state of sunshine, Arizona could and should be a leader in solar power and renewable energy. We should be moving forward, not back. We should be working together towards the goal of helping low-income families utilize the power of the sun to offset exorbitant power bills. We should take our time to develop meaningful policy that serves everyone’s best interests.

At the end of the day, it is the Arizona Corporation Commission’s duty to ensure economic fairness for everyone. That is what they were elected to do. Increasing these charges will have a negative effect on our economy, our people and our future.

Brandon Cheshire is owner of SunHarvest Solar.

3 comments

  1. Kudos to the Arizona Republic for printing this opinion. It is disturbing to read that it seems the ACC has decided to move to protect the profits of the behemoth electric utilities at the expense of a burgeoning rooftop solar industry. This action is taken in the wake of an election that saw unprecedented contributions flow into coffers of candidates who had virtually pledged to protect the maximum profitability of Big Electric such as Arizona Public Service.

  2. The ACC and APS should be encouraging solar in Arizona. APS should be investing in rooftop solar and helping the industry. Not just because it’s the moral, ethical thing to do, but because it could be profitable for them. APS had a transformer blow up a few years ago, roof top solar can take the pressure off the company as they get it fixed. Arizona’s sunny days, make it ideal for perfecting solar systems, APS should be on that bandwagon, not only for the citizens, but for profit from better systems. APS can generate more and cleaner energy by maximizing solar, especially if they develop innovative systems that they can sell to other energy companies. APS and Pinnacle West are paying decent stock dividends and their stocks are in good financial shape. As PUBLIC companies, they should be spreading some of the wealth by encouraging solar. I find it difficult to believe they are so short-sighted not to see the benefits.

  3. Our two Arizona power suppliers should be modifying their business models to serve their customers and our country. Renewable power is desperately needed now to reduce the carbon being pumped into our atmosphere now. The Corporation Commission needs to now lead our state into renewable energy, not block the people who are trying to make a difference on their own. Don’t they have grand-kids?

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