In doing so, the Commission not only went against the wishes of thousands of ratepayers who wrote the agency but also hundreds who attended the hearing today. It also contradicts a recommendation by the Commission’s own staff, a judge, and several other Arizona utilities. It’s not just the Commission. APS executives have repeatedly said they would wait for the next rate case before revisiting the issue of additional fees imposed on rooftop solar customers. APS is believed to have spent millions of dollars aiding the election of two favored candidates in 2014.
The decision, which the Arizona Republic Editorial Board called “the moment of truth,” also breaks repeated promises by the Commissioners themselves not to impose any additional taxes on rooftop solar without a rate case.
Commissioner Doug Little: “In my view, the best place for such analysis is within the context of the next APS rate case.” Arizona Investment Council Candidate Interview 4/30/14
Commissioner Tom Forese: “You just have to make sure that you find the balance and that is done in a rate case.” PBS interview 6/25/14
Commissioner Bob Stump: “We recognize that a complete consideration of the many facets of these issues must await APS’s next rate case.” Proposed amendment to the Net Metering decision 11/12/13
Commissioners Susan Bitter-Smith and Bob Burns kept their word and supported evaluating solar rates only in a rate case. Commissioners Forese, Little and Stump did not. This decision bends to the whim of a utility monopoly that has gone to great lengths to try and tax and regulate the solar industry out of business.
Indeed, the Arizona Corporation Commission hasn’t even ordered an independent study to validate or reject utility claims about solar, as numerous other states have. The decision results in a repeat of the 2013 solar deliberations in which the proceeding lacked an unbiased, independent consultant. The decision also results in a severe hit to credibility of the three Commissioners.
T.U.S.K. Chairman Barry Goldwater Jr. said, “It is regrettable that an entity that is supposed to be a watchdog for ratepayers seems more concerned with pleasing APS. Rooftop solar provides jobs, ratepayer savings, and energy competition. In siding with monopolies and against a well-informed and independent process, the Commission is on the wrong side of history.”
T.U.S.K. (Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed) was formed to stand for energy choice and rooftop solar savings. To learn more about T.U.S.K. visit www.dontkillsolar.com
T.U.S.K. believes that rooftop solar is similar to a charter school—it provides a competitive alternative to the monopoly. Monopoly utilities aren’t known for reducing costs or for driving business innovation, but the Arizona solar industry is. Solar companies have a track record of aggressive cost reduction in Arizona. The more people use rooftop solar, the less power they need to buy from the utilities. Energy independence for Arizonans means smaller profits for the utilities, so they are doing everything they can to stop the spread of independent solar.