Is there a deadline coming up for solar?
Yes (and no!). There are some changes coming to TEP’s “Net Metering” policy, which makes it more favorable to go solar before those changes are implemented. The next Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) hearing on the issue is anticipated to be in mid-March 2018. The implementation of the new rules will be effectively immediately at the time of the hearing.
What is the current status of Net Metering for TEP customers?
TEP customers who apply for interconnection of a grid-tied solar electric system before the ACC decision on Phase II of the rate case will qualify for net metering, and will be grandfathered on that rate structure for a period of 20 years from the date of their solar installation. Once the application for interconnection has been accepted by TEP, the customer has 180 days to install the system and have it inspected.
When is the ACC going to make a decision on Net Metering?
The final hearings for Phase II of the TEP rate case is anticipated for mid-March 2018. This means that the issue will not reach the Commissioners for a vote until mid-March at the earliest, at or after which the grandfathering deadline will occur. For a link to the schedule, please see the Commission order.
What will replace Net Metering for future solar homeowners?
There are several changes that we know about, as well as considerable uncertainty about other factors. What we know is that solar electricity that is exported from a home will have a different value than the energy purchased or imported from TEP. That value will be set every year, and customers who apply for interconnection during that year will keep the established rate for 10 years. We also know that the export rate cannot decline by more than 10% per year. What we do not know is what the export rate will be initially set at, nor what the underlying rate structures available to solar customers will be. These factors will have a profound impact on the economics of future solar installations within TEP service territory.
Is there anything I can do to voice my support for rooftop solar?
Yes! You can write a letter to the ACC docket (E-01933A-15-0322), or an email to ACC chairman Tom Forese, expressing your opinion about the TEP rate case, and Net Metering specifically. Some of the points we feel are important to make include:
Make sure the changes the ACC approves are a gradual step so that innovation is encouraged, but the opportunity to go solar remains viable for homeowners/business owners.
Don't impose a "grid access fee" above $0.75/watt DC. Anything more than this will jeopardize an economically viable option for people to adopt solar.
Set the initial solar “export rate” high enough that as it declines, there are at least a few years where traditional grid-tied solar is still economically viable for homeowners. This will allow the solar industry to come up with solutions that provide additional benefits to the grid beyond standard energy production, such as storage capabilities and load shifting.
Don't add additional meter fees for solar installations.
Voice your opinions as to why it is important to continue to allow homes and business in Tucson to install solar energy systems. In our opinion, the main reasons include technological innovation, including growing community resiliency, empowerment of individual participation in energy generation, and fostering a vibrant Tucson community/economy.
We encourage you to share why you think solar energy is important, and why customer-owned solar energy systems are valuable.
The Benefits of Rooftop solar:
- Encourages citizen participation in renewable energy generation.
- Takes steps toward recreating the energy grid, and modernizing it to be more resilient, dynamic and efficient. Without encouraging these 'baby steps' now, it will take much longer to develop a grid that can provide '21st century' value.
- Provides a platform for technological innovation.
- Supports community vitality because people want to live in a place where solar energy is abundant.