Clean Power

Published on October 3rd, 2013 | by Guest Contributor


APS Proposal To Tax Solar Energy Gets Big “No” From Arizona Corporation Commission Staff

October 3rd, 2013 by  

Image Credit: TUSK(Scottsdale, Ariz) The staff at Arizona Corporation Commission has issued a memo advising Commissioners to reject both of APS’ proposals to kill competition by taxing solar savings.

According to their report:

“Staff recommends that the Commission not approve either of the NM cost-shift solutions proffered by APS in the instant application for the reasons discussed above. Instead, Staff recommends that no changes be made at this time, but instead, this issue be evaluated during APS’s next rate case.”

The staff report also said the APS proposals yield unwarranted increased revenue to APS without giving money back to the people.

ACC Staff’s report comes after a July 16 letter by Commissioner Gary Pierce to Staff requesting help in analyzing APS’ net metering proposals, primarily due to Staff’s “experience in analyzing costs and revenues related to rate cases.”

APS seeks to end net metering, a process by which rooftop solar customers are fairly compensated for excess electricity they send back to the grid.

The utility’s reaction to the report is stunning in that APS fails to mention its plan was outright rejected. Here is an excerpt from APS’ statement:

“We stand by our initial proposal and we look forward to working with the commissioners, staff and other stakeholders on
developing the right solution for our customers.”

APS has taken spin to a whole new level, a complete departure from reality.

About T.U.S.K
T.U.S.K (Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed) was formed to stand for energy choice and energy independence. T.U.S.K. Chairman Barry Goldwater Jr. said, “The Corporation Commission staff doesn’t buy APS’ false claims and let’s hope our Corporation Commissioners heed the expert advice of their staff.”

To learn more about T.U.S.K. visit

T.U.S.K. believes that rooftop solar is similar to a charter school—it provides a competitive alternative to the monopoly. Monopoly utilities aren’t known for reducing costs or for driving business innovation, but the Arizona solar industry is. Solar companies have a track record of aggressive cost reduction in Arizona. The more people use rooftop solar, the less power they need to buy from the utilities. Energy independence for Arizonans means smaller profits for the utilities, so APS is doing everything it can to stop the spread of independent solar. Recently, APS has proposed a plan to tax rooftop solar out of existence.

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  • Pat Pillsbury

    Pretty remarkable for APS to attempt this since there is a mandate for the state to produce green energy and the only way to achieve the volume of green energy is for consumers to voluntarily put in systems themselves–and we have been doing so with REBATES from the STATE. The corporation commission needs to keep their eyes on this one. Meanwhile, they need to do something about dropping power rates in Mohave County…we had $300-$600 power bills monthly June-August. The commission allegedly required Mohave Electric to increase the rates…and MEC allegedly protested. So the rates are coming down in January…by 2.5%…For example, if you used 860 kilowatt hours, you’ll save $2.58 as the result of the reduction. Big deal. If things don’t change, the commission needs to be recalled and a new one installed.

  • Willy

    I have solar and I pay those same taxes each month. No one is subsidizing or paying my bill and I provide power back. It is time to let the people with solar speak and allow the truth to be told instead of the fear tactics and neighbor against neighbor ads that are being run by aps. The whole purpose (and discussions had even with aps during installation) was to have cleaner energy, less carbon, and to save money. Solar was a costly and the time it takes to break even is lengthy. So for all of you I say talk to your neighbor with solar and discover the actual process before passing judgment. It has reduced my bills but it will take 7 to 10 years to break even. Think about it. Are we really hurting the utility company? The financial burden is on those of us who take the risk!

    • Bob_Wallace

      Even a 10 year breakeven time span is a 7.2% return on investment.

      7.2% return with low risk. That’s an incredible investment. You might expect 8% with an index stock fund but you’d have a lot more volatility (risk).

      A 7 year breakeven is a bit over 10% per year return on investment.

      • Willy

        That’s break even! No profit and that’s if things don’t change, and with this situation who knows, so sorry there is a risk not to mention that aps did not have any problem signing on with this and now if I sell (which I may) it could hurt resale opportunities. So throw numbers if you want but there is more risk than meets the eye and all for something that was sold by aps to us as good for the community. My bill is never zero, so I continue to pay into this.. Figure that into your numbers as well.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Here’s what you said…

          “It has reduced my bills but it will take 7 to 10 years to break even.”

          If you break even in 10 years that means that the money you invested has earned enough over that period to return your invested dollars. Yes, you aren’t getting a check in the mail. But you are avoiding paying a utility bill. Same-same.

          Had you invested you money in something like a stock or bond you would be getting a check and then paying that money out to the electricity company. Either way your bank balance would be the same.

          You still have some sort of a utility bill, that probably means that you have fees other than the cost of electricity. That’s normal. What your installed solar does is to produce the electricity you use. It does not pay for your grid connection. The grid is providing you backup and “storage”. Without the grid there you would need a bunch of batteries and a generator. The grid is a bargain.

          As for your house value, studies show that houses with installed solar sell for quite a bit more than houses without solar. The additional selling price, on average, is more than the solar system cost.

  • NRG4All

    If APS had any vision, they would see that there continues to be improvement in the cost/watt of PV and in battery development. There is even work being done on allowing an electric car to feed electricity back into the house. Thus, it seems that in the future a new paradigm is needed for decentralized and centralized energy generation to co-exist. APS should be seeking that paradigm instead of trying to thwart solar in the state that makes the most sense for solar.

  • Tom G.

    This is a very good decision for APS electric consumers. Not so much for APS. There does however need to be a compromise for everything to work.

    If APS wants to remain competitive in the utility business they need to do things like creating more of the power their customers want to buy and stop trying to buy into more coal plants at 4 corners. I don’t care what you do to coal – coal is dirty. While coal is cheap now it will NOT be in the near future and to me this is a flawed business strategy on the part of APS. When they come back to the Corporation Commission asking for a rate increase to cover the cost of coal plant improvements I will remind them of their failed business strategy.

    Solar [and other renewables] at utility scale have many advantages and APS should be embracing the technologies since people want cleaner sources of energy. That is reality regardless of the legislative maneuvering APS might try. Maybe they should try creating their own solar division and try to learn how to become a cost competitive supplier.

    It is also true that SOMEONE has to pay for and maintaining the transmission infrastructure. On my current electric bill [Arizona] there are already two charges that seem to address transmission infrastructure maintenance. They are “Delivery Services” and “Renewable Energy Standard Tariff[s]” Those charges add up to a significant portion of my total bill and I don’t even have solar but I am helping those that do install solar.

    It seem like APS needs an attitude adjustment within its management structure. Mahybe its time to stop trying to legislate and instead try to innovate.

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