(PHOENIX) Arizona Public Service’s rate hike request submitted to the Arizona Corporation Commission yesterday combines two of the most anti-solar utility proposals in the country by imposing mandatory demand charges and the elimination of net metering.
APS is asking the Commission to eliminate net metering, the successful policy that allows solar customers to receive credit for excess energy they send to their neighbors. Last year, Nevada eliminated net metering and the state’s solar industry was virtually eliminated overnight. APS goes further than NV Energy, combining two market-ending proposals into one.
No regulated utility in the country has levied demand charges on all residential customers. When Salt River Project Utility Cooperative, not subject to ACC regulation, instituted demand charges on solar customers, the move killed the solar industry in SRP territory overnight. Applications dropped 96% and never recovered.
Demand charges can be volatile and confusing for all customers. In SRP Territory, General Manager Mark Bonsall, said, “We find there would be a large number of residential customers that have neither the desire, nor the inclination, to manage demand or to understand demand, but I guess the bottom line on that is I think it would be very difficult, were she still with us, to put my grandma on a demand charge."
Demand charges are so unpopular that hundreds of residents in Mohave and Santa Cruz Counties turned out in opposition when the Arizona Corporation Commission held hearings on a similar demand scheme request from Unisource Electric, which was later dropped.
APS’s job killing proposal comes at a time when APS is experiencing near record profits. APS also falsely blames rooftop solar customers for increased costs while ignoring the fact that the extra power provided by rooftop solar customers lessens the need for additional electrical generation and infrastructure, threatening APS’s lucrative monopoly return on investment.
TASC (The Alliance for Solar Choice) is hopeful that the Arizona Corporation Commission will reject APS’s request, which seeks to make its ratepayers guinea pigs for mandatory demand rates, penalize Arizonans who choose to generate their own power through rooftop solar and eliminate thousands of solar jobs and economic development.
TASC advocates for maintaining successful distributed solar energy policies, such as retail net metering, throughout the United States. Retail net metering (NEM) provides fair credit to residents, businesses, churches, schools, and other public agencies when their solar systems export excess energy to the grid. The organization was formed on the belief that anyone should have the option to switch from utility power to distributed solar power, and realize the financial benefits therein. The rooftop solar market has been largely driven by Americans’ desire to assert control over their electric bills, a trend that should be encouraged.