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Wanna Leave Solar Net-Metering Standards up to Utilities? Here’s What You Get.

Avatar for Dave Llorens
Published on 11/03/2007 in
Updated 11/03/2007


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

EDIT: 11/4/07

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.

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Last modified: November 3, 2007

13 thoughts on “Wanna Leave Solar Net-Metering Standards up to Utilities? Here’s What You Get.

  1. Avatar for Club Tickets WS Club Tickets WS says:

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful post. Many thanks for
    providing these details.

  2. Avatar for October 26 Philadelphia Pubcrawl October 26 Philadelphia Pubcrawl says:

    I needed to thank you for this good read!! I absolutely enjoyed every little bit of it.
    I’ve got you book marked to check out new stuff you post…

  3. Avatar for Jim Jim says:

    I have an idea for a new business for all of us. Let’s create our own utility company that provides no service of any kind to anyone. We can call it SolarRocks Electricity. We then send out invoices each month to the employees of the other utility companies and tell them we expect them to pay. This is America – if they can do it why can’t we? What a country!

  4. Avatar for dave dave says:

    I would grid tie my 1200 watt sun tracking array and my 3kwhr/day hydro tomorrow if i didn’t have to give away all positive credits once a year.

  5. Avatar for John John says:

    Another thing, why is it the Electric Cooperatives control the rebates awarded to people who install PV systems on their homes? Why not the state? Who made that decision? The Coops can make it real painful for folks to get PV systems installed. Now that was like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank!

  6. Avatar for John John says:

    Friends,
    everything that you say makes sense. Think about this… Even though these are “Electric Cooperatives” they are afraid of NOT making a profit. The way to overcome this thinking is for US, the pro-net metering folks is to somehow find a way to go to the board meetings and voice our concerns or is to actually be elected to the boards. Or get on the ACC.

  7. Avatar for MPC MPC says:

    We need to get the law changed to something like Germany’s.
    APS and SRP are going to have to pay for the power we put into the system.
    I make extra power and put it into there system, than they charge there customer for the power I made, sounds to me like they need to pay or there are going to be 1000’s of power company’s in AZ.
    MPC (my power comp.)
    send APS and SRP a bill every month for the power they used.

  8. Avatar for fsaf fsaf says:

    I find that I get a serious case of add when reading blogs. There’s so much information out there I tend to read as much of it as I can & never really stop to think to comment on people posts! How rude of me….. :

  9. Avatar for Bitter Solar Bitter Solar says:

    The latest APS mandate with respect to EPS and time of use is rather interesting. They actually re-sent this months bills to reflect a new net usage calculation. (may have been the letter of the law already, but not enforced). The “new” way separates peak and off-peak generation and usage. Since I have yet to see a grid tie solar system which functions at night, this effectively means that they want you to pay for all off peak usage while running up a huge credit for daytime (which they erase at the end of the year). Natural result: I’m gonna have to run all my power hog equipment during the day, probably extra for the next month just to use up all of those kWh credits I would otherwise lose. Not sure who this helps as it certainly kills the whole “peak-leveling” artifact of solar energy. Admittedly this is not an issue in the summer when AC is hogging every last kW anyway.

  10. Avatar for R M. Cady R M. Cady says:

    Here is a thought,
    With all the checks going out to big business executives at the end of the year why not increase the tax on the EXTRA money they make to fund the AMERICAN DREAM of becoming energy independent.
    I wonder if they would go for that,after all we AMERICANS ARE FOOTING THE BILL!!!

  11. Avatar for MJ MJ says:

    Agreed with the bullshit, except for your assessment of Data Acquisition Systems. Personally, I think they’re necessary–a bit excessive with all the things they measure but:
    1) solar irradiance, ambient temperature and yes, Wind Speed affect the performance of PV modules. Hotter panels run less efficiently (sometimes up to a factor of 5-10%), which is why noontime on hot summer days aren’t necessarily the best times for solar power.
    2) Monitoring the performance of solar is important both to the owner, the utility and everyone else. Many people have no idea how to install and maintain solar effectively–monitoring the system’s output ensures that people aren’t wasting rebate/net metering money. This makes the owner happy because their system is performing well, the utility happy because they didn’t throw away money for a north-facing system, and everyone else happy because they don’t have to front the bill (in rates or taxes) for a system that doesn’t work.
    3) Finally, TEP (and most other utilities) only requires complex data acquisition on commercial systems. By the time a company invests in a 50kW system that costs $350K or more, that $8000 is pennies, especially considering the potential for system debugging purposes and marketing/corporate image (like having a website that says, “look at what our system is producing”).

    Anyway, so the whole “net metering” as proposed by APS is bullshit but system monitoring is not. Keep on (solar) rocking.

  12. Avatar for bshock bshock says:

    Once again, an entrenched corporation insists that it has the right to receive money just because it exists. Hey, APS, why don’t you start billing people in Timbuktu — you don’t provide them a service either.

  13. Avatar for AlienFarmer AlienFarmer says:

    Dan you are the man bro! This is a fight that is just beginning as solar becomes cheaper and thus more popular. These huge energy conglomerate’s won’t go down without a fight. Guys like you need to push them down. Rock on!

    AlienFarmer
    http://www.SolarCoupons.com

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