New Mexico’s Southwestern Public Service Company (SPS) had proposed a rate hike on its solar customers to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. However, Earthjustice,Vote Solar and New Mexico attorney Jason Marks, successfully fought the proposal. Now many New Mexico solar customers will actually see a reduction in charges.
"New Mexico is a sunny state that has the potential to be a solar energy leader" said Earthjustice attorney Sara Gersen. "I’m glad that we were able to stop charges from going up on clean, local energy. We want everyone to have a real opportunity to go solar. We can’t let utility fees put clean energy out of reach."
The utility imposed the charge, called the Distributed Generation Standby Service Rider, in 2011. It proposed increasing the charge by 31 percent for residential customers, and up to 48 percent for other groups of customers in October 2015.
Under the new settlement SPS will no longer impose a surcharge on excess energy, or net-metered energy. Previously, the utility charged for each kilowatt hour of customer-produced energy fed back to the grid. However, customers with solar power or other renewable energy on their homes home, businesses, municipal buildings or schools will still pay a monthly surcharge. Agricultural irrigation customers with renewable energy systems will see their surcharge drop by 20 percent, according to EarthJustice.
"We applaud the Commission for today’s decision, which will prevent SPS from further penalizing solar customers for generating their own electricity, an investment that lowers energy costs, supports local jobs and improves health for families statewide," said Vote Solar program director Rick Gilliam. "This should send a clear signal to utilities around the country that are attempting to impose similar discriminatory fees that this tactic to curtail rooftop solar is as unconstructive as it is unfair."
The commission’s decision follows similar decisions it’s made in the past year, disallowing additional fees that New Mexico’s other utilities sought to impose on rooftop solar and it echoes efforts around the country by utilities to impose fees to slow down the growth of rooftop solar power. In some places, like Nevada, they’ve had more success. But the solar industry has been fighting back as have homeowners and others.Tweet