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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

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Club Tickets WSOctober 26 Philadelphia PubcrawlJimdaveJohn Recent comment authors
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Club Tickets WS
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Club Tickets WS

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

October 26 Philadelphia Pubcrawl
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October 26 Philadelphia Pubcrawl

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…

Jim
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Jim

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!

dave
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dave

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.

John
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John

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!

John
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John

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.

MPC
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MPC

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.

fsaf
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fsaf

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….. :

Bitter Solar
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Bitter Solar

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… Read more »

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