Arizona regulators set new course for net metering

The Arizona Corporation Commission ruled that Arizona’s net metering program should spread the cost of maintaining a reliable electrical grid more fairly among all Arizona Public Service (APS) customers.

In a 3 to 2 vote, the regulators instituted a charge on future customers who install rooftop solar panels and directed APS to provide quarterly reports on the pace of rooftop solar adoption to assist the commission in considering further increases.

The charge of $0.70 per kilowatt will be effective January 1, 2014, and is estimated to collect $4.90 per month from a typical future rooftop solar energy customer to help pay for their use of the electricity grid. The new policy will be in effect until the next APS rate case, which the ACC directed the company to file in 2015.

In making its decision, the ACC determined that the current net metering program creates a cost shift, causing non-solar utility customers to pay higher rates to cover the costs of maintaining the electrical grid.

The cost shift to non-solar customers is what prompted APS to propose net metering reforms earlier this year. ACC professional staff and the state’s Residential Utility Consumer Office (RUCO), among other organizations, also agreed that a cost shift exists.

The fixed charge does not increase APS revenue, but instead will modestly reduce the impact of the cost shift on non-solar customers. The ACC acknowledged that the new charge addresses only a portion of the cost shift.

Current solar customers and those who submit an application and a signed contract with a solar installer to APS by Dec. 31, 2013, are not subject to the new fixed charge.

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