Since the state of Arizona currently has no net metering standards, individual utilities are free to develop their own. This is a disastrous situation, and there is no better example than what Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest utility, is trying to do. In their latest rate case, APS filed for a net metering tariff that would be devastating to solar in their service territory. To begin with, APS’s net metering proposal would cap installations at 10 kW. Fine for the residential market, but that pretty much eliminates commercial systems.
APS claimed that they are deprived of “lost revenues” for which it deserves compensation if customers install solar systems. Excuse me, but that statement made me break out the giant “BULLSH*T” button. Hey, ASP, if a customer decides to invest in a system which draws less energy from the grid, you assholes are not entitled to compensation from them for “lost revenues”. Such a proposition is preposterous and flat-out dumb.
If this isn’t enough, ASP wanted to be paid about 6.7 cents for every kWh a customer-sited solar system generates. Yes, you read that right. If you buy electricity from them, it’d cost you 11 cents a kWh. If you install solar and don’t buy electricity from them, you still owe them 6.7 cents per kWh! Are you kidding me?!? The good people at Vote Solar got some colleagues together, hired a lawyer, and successfully fought APS’s proposal. APS will offer net metering up to 100 kW for the time being. However, the fight continues.
For some perspective, the Germans have this net-metering business all figured out. If you go solar there, the utility company is required to pay YOU three times the going rate for the electricity you produce. That’s why, even though it’s cloudy as all get out in Germany, there is more solar per capita installed than anywhere else in the planet. Meanwhile, customers that WANT to go solar in sunny Arizona have to deal with this kind of crap.
If this isn’t enough, there are no interconnection standards in Arizona. This is also a significant hindrance on solar development. Why?? According to a report by votesolar.org:
“Tucson Electric Power, one of the state’s larger utilities, recently decided that commercial grid-connected solar systems in its service territory must have a data monitoring system capable of collecting “plane of array solar insolation in watts/M2, ambient temperature in degrees F., wind speed in miles/hour and actual AC power output in watts … on an average time interval not to exceed five (5) minutes for each data point throughout the day.” Why is measuring wind speed relevant? It’s not — but purchasing and installing this system will increase costs by up to $8,000.”
Blech! To get involved in the fight against these big utilities, check in with Votesolar.org
I awoke to find a reasonable amount of chatter on this story at reddit.com. I’d urge many of you to read through the comments there as some are quite informative. One of the users submitted this link to an AZCentral story urging me to read up on the tariffs APS is proposing and all the incentives APS has already to spur on solar development. Indeed, since utilities in Arizona are required to have 15% of their power portfolio come from renewables in 15 years, they have provided some incentives to get more solar on roofs. They’ve also proposed a tariff similar to that in Germany to catalyze more solar installed. However, there are no standards for the rates they pay solar installers for the power they are generating once those systems are installed. This is the main problem. Installation incentives are there, however the utility seeks to maximize their revenues by proposing to bill solar power producers for electricity they are producing. This is rapacious and continues to be Bullsh*t.
Someone please make us a logo. There’s an 8GB iPod in it for you if yours rocks. Have you seen ours? Right, cause we don’t have one, and if we made it ourselves, it would suck, not rock. We need help. Also, if any of you have a fark membership throw the contest up there if you don’t mind.
Last modified: November 3, 2007