Jul 172013

By Julie Wiessner
A new Arizona Public Service (APS) solar plan, submitted July 12 to and currently under review by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), proposes to give two choices for future residential solar customers. The options are a net metering and a bill credit choice, along with increasing up-front cash incentives to invest in solar.
Choice one would give future rooftop solar customers reimbursement through the current net metering structure, but would also pay for their use of the grid based on how much electricity they use.
With choice two, the bill credit option, net metering would be replaced by a bill credit given to solar customers for the energy they generate. If approved, the ACC would set that price based on current market rates APS pays other generators of power.
The company also supports increasing the up-front cash incentives for customers who choose solar, enabling rooftop solar to continue to thrive in Arizona.
The new plan APS is offering would give customers an option that would make electricity rates more equitable for everyone in their service areas.
According to APS Executive Vice President of Operations Mark Schiavoni, “Both of the options we have proposed, together with the up-front incentives, preserves the choice for customers to install solar and makes rooftop solar an ongoing sustainable resource, which is not the case today.”
Current rooftop solar customers use the grid essentially for free. As a result, other customers who either can’t afford solar panels, don’t have a place to put them or don’t want them, end up paying higher rates than their neighbors with solar panels.
If the APS proposal is approved, those who have already installed solar, along with those who submit an application to interconnect a system by the middle of October, would be given a 20-year grace period before the new policy takes effect. It is a grandfathering provision to help protect the customer’s long-term commitment to solar.
Current solar customers also have power when they need it and can use the grid to sell power back into the system when they have more than they can use.
Schiavoni noted that solar customers would be compensated fairly for their solar energy while paying their fair share of the cost of the grid. The result is a system that allows all customers to benefit from solar energy in Arizona.
An APS goal is to help make Arizona the solar capital of America by making sure the infrastructure is in place to support the increasing demand for it.