DSC_0073.JPG
September 11, 2018

Today, after three years of process and deliberation, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) finally decided on TEP’s solar net metering case. This decision was a part of TEP’s Phase 2 rate case.
tfs-divider-small.png
The decision was essentially to adopt the administrative law judge’s Recommended Order and Opinion (ROO), which is outlined below:

1. An RCP (resource comparison proxy - more commonly referred to as a solar export rate*) of 9.6 cents per kWh; this is the rate paid for energy that is not used instantly at home and is sent back to the grid, otherwise known as the export rate.

2. A $2.33 per month solar meter fee

The new net metering policy and associated changes are anticipated to be effective later this week, and will apply to customers who apply for solar interconnection with TEP after that time. This new solar export rate, aka the RCP, is locked in for 10 years from the date of the customer’s interconnection with the utility. The new solar export rate is scheduled to drop 10% annually, and each year new solar customers will lock in that year’s rate for 10 years.


*For new solar customers, the ruling replaces net metering with a solar “export rate” based on the cost of energy from utility-scale solar farms over a prior five-year period.



What does it mean?

For existing solar customers there will be no change as a result of the ACC’s decision.

For new residential solar customers who sign up in the next few years there will be a reasonable rate of return, which means solar will remain attractive from an investment perspective. Financing will still be available, but will only provide monthly savings with a down payment.

Additionally, for homeowners interested in storage options, there is an increased incentive for installing batteries to allow for self-consumption of their solar energy. By storing excess solar power and then using it directly, customers can avoid the lower RCP export rate. This, in combination with having back-up power during outages and being able to utilize the 30% federal tax credit, makes battery storage systems more viable now than ever.

The new net metering policy and associated changes are anticipated to be effective later this week, and will apply to customers who apply for solar interconnection with TEP after that time. This new solar export rate, aka the RCP, is locked in for 10 years from the date of the customer’s interconnection with the utility. The new solar export rate is scheduled to drop 10% annually, and each year new solar customers will lock in that year’s rate for 10 years.




What can you do to support solar in Arizona?

VOTE! Although the outcome for solar in the next few years looks positive, the long-term future of solar in Arizona remains uncertain. Arizonans looking for ways to continue to support solar and renewable energy in the state can look into Prop 127 and consider a YES vote in November. This citizen ballot initiative will allow voters to decide on the future of energy in the state.

To quote former ACC Chairperson, Kris Mayes, "They have stopped the progress of renewable energy and clean energy in this state. It's time for the people of Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Prescott, where I'm from, to take this issue into our own hands and decide what kind of destiny we want as a state." Read more in this recent AZPM piece.

There are also two seats up for election on the ACC this November. On the Democratic ticket are Sandra Kennedy (former AZ Corp Commissioner) and Kiana Sears. On the Republican ticket are Justin Olsen (current AZ Corp Commissioner) and Rodney Glassman. You can read more about 1) their positions on customer-owned solar, also known as “rooftop” or “DG” solar, as well as 2) their position on utility participation, including large campaign donations, in the election of ACC candidates who are intended to regulate the utilities. Both issues will go far toward determining the future of solar in Arizona.

We’re proud to have participated in solar in Arizona over the last 15 years and are grateful to the thousands of customers who have gone solar with us during that time. To quote Judge Rodda, the ACC Administrative Law Judge who researched and wrote the recent Recommended Order and Opinion on the TEP net metering case, “The reason we have rates to incentivize investment in renewable resources is for the benefit of all the utilities' customers, through the environmental benefits and a reduced need to construct new generation." There is more solar in Arizona than ever before, resulting in enormously positive environmental benefits, and allowing home and business owners to save thousands of dollars at the same time. We look forward to an ever growing solar future!

Comment