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AZ regulators side with Arizona Public Service, allowing them to levy new fee on solar panels

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posted on Nov, 23 2013 @ 10:35 PM
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Arizona regulators have granted Arizona Public Service the authority to charge $0.70 per kilowatt of installed solar power generating capacity. This works out to be on average, $3-$6 a month, which sounds trivial until you consider that the low-end estimates for the savings provided by the average solar panel installation are only about $5 a month.

What's really astounding is that APS was trying to get $8 a month per kilowatt of solar generating capacity which would have resulted in the electricity generated with solar panels costing homeowners several times more than electricity generated by APS! Though existing systems are being grandfathered in, it would have effectively destroyed the solar industry in Arizona, the state with the second most rooftop solar panel installations.

The battle leading up to this decision has seen many twists. Early on it didn't look like APS would be facing much of a challenge and it's easy to understand why when you consider the following:


Arizona Public Service, or APS—only needed approval from the state’s utility commission, which is 100 percent Republican. And the company generally enjoys strong support among Arizona Republicans. It donated $25,000 to the Republican Victory Fund in 2012, according to Arizona campaign filings. Four of Arizona’s five state utilities commissioners are former members of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which has staunchly opposed renewable energy mandates and incentives. On top of that, APS has spent $3.7 million to wage a lobbying and P.R. campaign against net metering, according to a recent disclosure filed with state regulators.



“They view the recent election of an all-Republican ACC as an opportunity to kill the independent solar market in Arizona,” said Jason Rose, spokesperson for Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed (TUSK), a newly formed organization led by former Arizona Republican Congressman Barry Goldwater, Jr.


However, it turned out that APS encountered a lot of Republican push back:


And yet the utility faced surprisingly fierce resistance from Arizona conservative activists, including former state GOP chairman Tom Morrissey, former Tempe Mayor and Republican candidate for State Treasurer Hugh Hallman, and an assortment of current and former Republican state lawmakers. “I can't tell you that six months ago we would have seen the success with Republicans that we have seen here now,” said Jason Rose, a Republican public relations consultant whose firm is behind the TUSK campaign. “Republicans who oppose solar in the next election, they are going to be wiped out across the board.”
“Solar power is philosophically consistent with the Republican Party,” Rose added. “If you're going to be for healthcare choice and school choice, how can you not be for energy choice? Conservatives, overwhelmingly, get that. If the Republican Party stops standing for the empowerment of the individual, what does it stand for?”

Goldwater’s team won a minor victory Thursday, when state utilities regulators narrowly voted to impose an average $5 monthly fee on new solar customers in Arizona. While the ruling was a compromise for the solar industry, and an acknowledgement that solar users shift power costs to the utility’s non-renewables customers, the new fees are just a fraction of the $50 to $100 that APS had asked commissioners to add to solar customers’ monthly bills. “The utilities... showed just how far they are willing to go at any cost,” Goldwater said in a statement Thursday night. “That is the legacy of the Arizona net metering battle—a major loss for APS and its allies.”


And this is despite APS efforts including funding fake grassroots groups:


After denying involvement for months, Arizona Public Service (APS) has recently admitted to funding non-profit organizations created to stop rooftop solar. As reported last Monday in The Arizona Republic, the company “sent cash to two non-profit groups that support the utility’s goal to make solar customers pay higher bills.”

The utility has been lying publicly about funding the anti-rooftop solar organizations because it wanted to give the impression that these organizations were developed and operating through grassroots-level efforts. APS lied to shareholders, ratepayers, and the general public to maintain this illusion.

One of these organizations, 60 Plus, works with consultant Sean Noble, who was also a political consultant for the Koch brothers in their fight against the democratic party and the 2012 Obama campaign. APS has admitted to contracting Noble. Noble has been under investigation for campaign money laundering in CA.


source - Bloomberg Businessweek
source - New Republic
source - Greentechmedia.com
source - Daily Kos
edit on 24-11-2013 by theantediluvian because: (no reason given)




posted on Nov, 23 2013 @ 11:03 PM
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reply to post by theantediluvian
 


This looks bad, but all in all I think its a good sign. If solar were a truly negligible force in AZ, they would have ignored it. But this pushback by a power company shows its something they really fear. With all that empty, sundrenched land down there, I'd be worried too if I were them. This is going to come down to economics, and my bet is more and more people will be investing in living at least somewhat off the grid, and producing their own power.



posted on Nov, 23 2013 @ 11:15 PM
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Indirectly taxing the very sunshine you live under, and charging the people for power they have nothing to do with producing...HOWS THAT WORK IN AMERIKA?????



posted on Nov, 23 2013 @ 11:48 PM
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The history of Arizona is a case study in the corporate exploitation of natural resources (and the accompanying political manipulation). It was only a matter of time before someone came up with "sunshine fees".



posted on Nov, 24 2013 @ 06:15 AM
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reply to post by theantediluvian
 


WOW! The TITB (I=idiots) really went too far this time. If I spend thousands of dollars to get out from under their collective thumbs, they still think they have the right to charge me for the power that I produce as a result. That is absolutely ridiculous! I wonder how they would feel if it was the other way around? They should have to pay ALL consumers for every kilowatt of power they produce.(while releasing dangerous chemicals and radioactive waste into the environment)



posted on Nov, 24 2013 @ 08:12 AM
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reply to post by theantediluvian
 


Yeah you guys really ought to change that whole "land of the free" slogan.


Maybe "land of the the coperation" may be a better slogan?



posted on Nov, 24 2013 @ 08:47 AM
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reply to post by stirling
 

I live in Az,and think the intent of the tax was overlooked by the OP.They are not taxing you for making the power,they are taxing you for using the power lines to send it back.If you are off the grid,you pay nothing.If you sell the excess back to them,you pay.My thought,the power lines would be there anyway,so why tax me?
I recently read that if 10 percent of Phoenix went solar,with the buyback program,that APS would go broke.There are not enough new customers to offset the spending on solar buyback.While that would really break my heart,there are still some options.

granted,we'd all like to never have a power bill again,but few of us can afford an off grid setup.What if you did a partial off grid? Enough battery and solar panels to power LED lighting,maybe RV type air conditioners,12 volt appliances,so on.You'd still use the grid for your heavy load items,but your daily use items would be basically free.Think of a hybrid solar home!



posted on Nov, 24 2013 @ 02:03 PM
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That has to be the most overtly self serving thing I have seen a power company do. I would assume that is for people connected to the grid. There would be no way to charge a fee for someone living off grid.



posted on Nov, 24 2013 @ 05:55 PM
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reply to post by theantediluvian
 


I read the Bloomberg link.

Arizona seems prime for a homeowner to go solar. You would still want to be on the grid as a backup though.

I seem to recall a utility buying back power rather universal. It makes sense otherwise the homeowner is generating power for someone else on the grid that the utility is profiting off of.

I get the whole argument of them building/maintaining the grid but that is for profit, not generosity. The solar powered home is in essence, competition. Instead of becoming more competitive, the utility massages the local government for the win. Must be more profitable.

I guess one has to ask: who does that government represent? Maybe my tinfoil hat is too tight but it seems I hear more and more of this everyday. An independent citizen must really make some folks nervous.



posted on Nov, 24 2013 @ 06:42 PM
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I would imagine anyone using the lines to market their power pay a fee. If the utility is paying a market price for the power it would be well above 70 cents so the power is not being given away. The home owner is just becoming a power marketer.

I'll have to research this but I bet this is close.



posted on Nov, 24 2013 @ 06:57 PM
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It is bit a different


SolarCity and Sunrun are among the companies that offer rooftop systems to consumers at little to no upfront costs. They install the panels and the customers sign long-term contracts to buy the power, typically for less than they pay their local utilities.

Link


So the utility seems to be trying to counter some of it's lost customer demand. Seems to me the equipment/power marketer should be working out a deal with the utility. Instead it seems the home owners are being targeted because, my guess, they don't have a big corporate lobby.

I suppose the utility just doesn't want to negociate the price the home owners get paid for the excess power. Something is built into the market system because they do seem to pay for the power. I can see how a home owner with no excess power gets ripped off. The consumer seems to always lose.


edit on 11/24/2013 by roadgravel because: (no reason given)

edit on 11/24/2013 by roadgravel because: typo



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