Arizona’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service (APS) reached a settlement with a broad coalition of stakeholders on its rate increases. Under the new proposal, which was submitted to the Arizona Corporate Commission (ACC) for approval, APS would be allowed an overall revenue increase of 3.3 percent, but existing customers with solar power would have 20 years of full retail-rate net metering under their current plan. The move was approved by numerous stakeholders including the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Vote Solar and more.
“After weeks of discussion, we are pleased negotiations produced a settlement that all stakeholders, SEIA included, feel comfortable signing. The thorough process concluded outside of litigation, and we hope an era of collaboration will take hold in Arizona,” said Sean Gallagher, SEIA vice president of state affairs. “While the solar industry didn’t get everything it had hoped for out of the settlement, Arizona’s current solar customers can rest assured they will be grandfathered into their existing rates, which was a priority for SEIA. Under the agreement, new solar customers will be able to sign up under initial rates that are as favorable as could be obtained under the Commission’s December 2016 Value of Solar decision, which creates longer term uncertainties for Arizona customers.”
Under the settlement new rooftop solar customers would have to choose a time-of-use or demand-based rate charge. They would be credited for their excess electricity at a credit starting at 12.9 cents per kilowatt-hour. It’s a reverse for a utility that last year filed to end its net-metering program.
The utility said the typical bill for its residential customers would increase 4.5 percent, or about $6 per month. Under the pending agreement APS also said it would refund $15 million of surplus energy efficiency program funds to customers during the first year its new rates are in effect.
“Arizona’s families and businesses should be able to meet their own energy needs with the state’s plentiful sunshine if they so choose,” said Briana Kobor, program director with Vote Solar. “Solar is an investment that supports local jobs, improves energy security and helps build a competitive new energy economy in the state. We were glad to arrive at a settlement that takes some steps to preserve customer choice, keeps solar customers on the same rates as other customers, and soundly rejects the idea of penalizing all residential customers with mandatory demand charges.”
“This agreement demonstrates what can be accomplished when people come together with a willingness to compromise and resolve complex policy issues. Consumer advocates, environmental advocates, business customers, solar industry representatives and more have agreed on a path for Arizona’s energy future. The winners are Arizona electricity customers,” said Don Brandt, APS Chairman, President and CEO. “What we have is a blueprint that will bring about more solar, a smarter energy infrastructure, a cleaner energy mix and more options for customers.”
The utility also agreed to invest $10 million to $15 million in an AZ Sun rooftop on an annual basis. Through that investment customers would receive a monthly credit to allow the company to install rooftop solar systems on their homes, APS stated. It added that the program would expand access to solar for limited- and moderate-income customers.Tweet