It’s no secret that APS Energy, Arizona’s largest utility has battled with solar installers in the state over net-metering policies. But now the utility is proposing to install solar on 3,000 homes across the state.
The utility said that it’s one of two proposals it’s made to the Arizona Corporation Commission. The other would continue its AZ Sun program and include the construction of a 20-megawatt community-scale solar plant near Tonopah.
Under the proposal introduced Monday however, APS seemingly is doing a 180 on its anti-net-metering stance, sort of. It proposes installing solar on roughly 3,000 single-family homes and to credit them $30 a month over a 20-year lifespan. The homeowners wouldn’t have to pay anything for the modules and would essentially be paid for renting out their rooftops to APS.
Sounds like a good deal, but some aren’t buying it already. “After attacking rooftop solar companies in Arizona relentlessly for more than a year, this latest tactic by APS has a ‘Trojan Horse’ smell to it,” said Ken Johnson, vice president of communications for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Our member companies welcome fair and equal competition, but this move would stack the deck in favor of a company which can rate base solar with a guaranteed rate of return. How is that fair? The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) needs to think this through very carefully.”
Some of the early issues that surface are that though the homeowners will have solar on their roofs they won’t be the direct beneficiaries of the solar panels on their rooftops. So, if a system on a rooftop produces the net-metered equivalent of $100, $50 or some other figure, the homeowner would still only receive the monthly $30 credit. Also it’s not clear what would happen to APS’ net-metering program under the newly filed option.
APS said, however, that it gives more people another option to install solar on their roofs. Even if they aren’t accruing all the direct benefits of the array they still lower their monthly energy bill by $30. Over a 20-year span that equals up to $7,200.
APS also said that it is partnering with local Arizona solar installers on the program. “Arizona solar installers will be given preference and selected through a competitive bidding process—keeping jobs and money in the state,” the company said.
Though the program hasn’t been approved by the ACC yet interested parties can sign up for an “interest list” on APS’ site.Tweet