Originally published on San Diego Loves Green
by Michael Scerbo of Rose Moser Allyn
On Sunday, an Arizona Republic investigation revealed the utility monopoly APS repeatedly lied about funneling money to political organizations to attack solar customers. On Tuesday, AriSEIA, a leading Arizona solar organization, called for the Arizona Corporation Commission to investigate whether ratepayer funds were funneled in this political scheme. Today, another leading national solar organization is asking for more.
“Arizonans deserve to know whether ratepayer money is being used by APS to kill rooftop solar. The fact that APS repeatedly lied to the public, including its regulators, calls for a thorough investigation. As a monopoly entrusted to serve all Phoenix area residents, APS owes the public better,” said Bryan Miller, President of the Alliance for Solar Choice.
The Alliance for Solar Choice, which was formed by solar companies and customers to oppose utility efforts to kill savings from rooftop solar across the country, is requesting the Arizona Corporation Commission and Arizona Attorney General’s Office pursue the following:
*An immediate review of APS’s political spending and whether ratepayers have been, or will be asked to pay for such efforts. After the failure of its land development company, Suncor, it is unclear what revenues APS’s parent company, Pinnacle West, could have used for these efforts – besides the guaranteed rate of return provided by taxpayers. As AriSEIA pointed out on Tuesday, APS can no longer be trusted on these matters, and independent confirmation is needed to restore public confidence.
*Consumer fraud. The Attorney General’s Office often investigates and prosecutes companies that make false claims about their products and their standing in the market. APS has now admitted that it lied repeatedly about funding numerous dark money attacks to kill off an entire Arizona industry. Given the effect of this conduct on consumers of electricity – which is all of us – and the hardworking folks employed by Arizona-based solar organizations, uncovering APS’s wrongdoing should be a top priority for the Attorney General’s Office.
In addition, APS may have violated state law if they ever lied to a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission about funneling money to political organizations that are attacking solar energy. Arizona Revised Statutes state:
“Whoever shall transmit, utter or publish to the legislature, or to any member or members of the legislature, or any committee, officer or employee of either house of the legislature, or to any state officer, agency, board, commission or council any communication materially related to any matter within the jurisdiction of the legislature, or be a party to the preparation thereof, knowing such communication or signature thereto is false, forged, counterfeit or fictitious shall be guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.”– ARS § 41-1235
TASC advocates for maintaining successful distributed solar energy policies, such as retail net metering, throughout the United States. Retail net metering (NEM) provides fair credit to residents, businesses, churches, schools, and other public agencies when their solar systems export excess energy to the grid. The organization was formed on the belief that anyone should have the option to switch from utility power to distributed solar power, and realize the financial benefits therein. The rooftop solar market has been largely driven by Americans’ desire to assert control over their electric bills, a trend that should be encouraged.