Why Arizona Wants to ‘Tax’ Solar Power

Topic of the Day

Why Arizona Wants to ‘Tax’ Solar Power

Posted:

(Yahoo News!) - Arizona does not have enough sunshine. It needs to ration that precious resource.

There's no other explanation for the latest proposal from Arizona Public Service, Arizona's largest electric utility. On July 12, it announced a plan to drastically change net-metering, the way in which homeowners and businesses with solar rooftops sell excess power back to the grid. Net-metering is the foundation for all solar leasing; without it, solar companies can't entice homeowners with the promise of "cut your electric bill, no money down" but instead would rely on sales of expensive systems.

The proposal would slap existing solar-paneled homeowners with a fee of up to $100 per month for the privilege of selling excess power back to APS. If you own a home and don't already have solar panels, no sun for you! You can never share in net-metering as we know it.

The APS proposal has Arizonans up in arms—a pro-solar rally on July 16 drew hundreds of people to stand outside, hogging that sunshine and keeping it from reaching roofs. After all, net-metering challenges a government monopoly. It's made with American ingenuity. The alternative is a costly boondoggle of centrally regulated authority.

In this classic fight of freedom from big government, it's no wonder that Barry Goldwater, Jr. supports solar—uh, wait? Yes, the son of the 1964 Presidential candidate fights for solar power because, as a conservative, he wants a free market, not a monopoly.

Why is Arizona suddenly so opposed to solar energy? The state consumes its electricity 50 percent in the form of coal, and two percent in the form of sunshine. Much of its coal is imported from Colorado and points north, turned into electricity at Four Corners and other massive coal plants, and exported to California—an approach that only makes sense to fans of Rube Goldberg devices. It has some utility-scale solar plants, with more planned, but again much of its power is bought by California's hungry utilities.

One answer: APS is facing its own mortality. If rooftop solar is adopted widely enough, it means a death spiral for the electric utilities. The price per kilowatt-hour for solar is plummeting. The utilities all know it, and they're fighting back by making net-metering more expensive.

Another answer: The Arizona Corporation Commission (the state's name for its Public Utilities Commission) is closely allied with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group generally pushing model right wing laws within states.

"There's no reason other than ideology," Nancy LaPlaca, an Arizona energy consultant, tells TakePart. "They just don't like solar." Four of the commission members are associated with ALEC. One of them is a former Chevron consultant.

The solar fight in Arizona crystallizes red states' dilemma: Do they listen to the explicitly fossil-fueled American For Prosperity and the Koch brothers, or do they choose politically popular renewable energy? Libertarian-minded tea party folk allied with solar energy in Georgia to force that state's PUC to incorporate more solar net-metering. Kansas farmers who want to grow wind among their other crops fought back a law that would have delayed the state's renewable energy standard. North Carolina legislators were swayed by jobs. Even Idaho's PUC said no to an effort by a utility plan to end net-metering for all of the 386 customers in the state who lease solar; the PUC chided the utility and cited "overwhelming" public opposition to the plan.

Arizona's ACC faces a choice. It could tell approximately 18,000 customers that the sun is too scarce in the Grand Canyon state, or that net-metering is too expensive for the utility company (not for the homeowners). Or the five members of the commission could step outside of their air conditioned offices, look out at the state, and notice that Arizona does, in fact, have enough sunshine to go around.

  • Email Alert Sign Up

    Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.

    * denotes required fields


    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Go to KSWT-TV's Facebook page
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • National

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Web Producer: Lucy Valencia, Assignment Desk Editor WASHINGTON (AP) -- Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits willMore >>
    Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits will be delayed if congressional Republicans fail to increase the government's borrowing authority in a looming showdown over the nation's debt and spending.More >>
  • Got Solar? Utility looking to place solar panels on a home near you

    Got Solar? Utility looking to place solar panels on a home near you

    Arizona's top utility company is looking to place solar panels on 3,000 homes; at no cost to the homeownerArizona Public Service announced that they plan on placing these panels on residents homes and in turn for the usage of their roofs the utility company will give them a $30 discount on their monthly bill for the next 20 years. If approved by regulators APS will spend anywhere from 50 to 70 million in project costs. This new initiative will help the utility giant meets it's mandatory alter...More >>
    Arizona's top utility company is looking to place solar panels on 3,000 homes; at no cost to the homeownerArizona Public Service announced that they plan on placing these panels on residents homes and in turn for the usage of their roofs the utility company will give them a $30 discount on their monthly bill for the next 20 years. If approved by regulators APS will spend anywhere from 50 to 70 million in project costs. This new initiative will help the utility giant meets it's mandatory alter...More >>
  • Facebook Recovering After Brief Outage

    Facebook Recovering After Brief Outage

    If you experienced issues logging ontoFacebooktoday, you're not alone. The site went down for most users around 12 p.m. ET on Friday. Users began to regain access to the site about 30 minutes later, according to various tweets.Mashablehas been able to access the site, although response time has been slower than usual. For the duration of the outage, visitors to Facebook.com were greeted with the following message: Facebook'sdeveloper webpagewent down with the site during the initial outage, b...More >>
    If you experienced issues logging ontoFacebooktoday, you're not alone. The site went down for most users around 12 p.m. ET on Friday. Users began to regain access to the site about 30 minutes later, according to various tweets.Mashablehas been able to access the site, although response time has been slower than usual. For the duration of the outage, visitors to Facebook.com were greeted with the following message: Facebook'sdeveloper webpagewent down with the site during the initial outage, b...More >>
  • Body found along trail; death called suspicious

    Body found along trail; death called suspicious

    The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office says a 43-year-old Peoria man's body has been found along a forest trail and his death is being called suspicious.More >>
    The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office says a 43-year-old Peoria man's body has been found along a forest trail and his death is being called suspicious.More >>
  • Yuma

    Transit director responds to bus rider concerns

    Transit director responds to bus rider concerns

    YUMA, AZ (13 On Your Side) - Yesterday, 13 On Your Side spoke with 72-year-old Robert Perez, who uses public transportation and isn't happy with the service he's getting. He says, "you have to wait inMore >>
    Yesterday, 13 On Your Side spoke with 72-year-old Robert Perez, who uses public transportation and isn't happy with the service he's getting.More >>
  • Solar Wind Energy Tower, Inc. Agrees to Accept up to $100 Million Additional Financing from Arizona Alternative Energy Center, LLC for San Luis, Arizona Tower

    Solar Wind Energy Tower, Inc. Agrees to Accept up to $100 Million Additional Financing from Arizona Alternative Energy Center, LLC for San Luis, Arizona Tower

    ANNAPOLIS, MD / ACCESSWIRE / July 14, 2014 / Solar Wind Energy Tower, Inc. (OTCQB: SWET), (the “Company”), the inventor of large Solar Wind Downdraft Tower structures capable of producing abundant,...More >>
    ANNAPOLIS, MD / ACCESSWIRE / July 14, 2014 / Solar Wind Energy Tower, Inc. (OTCQB: SWET), (the “Company”), the inventor of large Solar Wind Downdraft Tower structures capable of producing abundant, inexpensive...More >>
  • Father time reared his head

    Father time reared his head

    As UCLA tallied the damage from rampant flooding triggered by the rupture of a 90-year-old city water line, Los Angeles city leaders on Wednesday were once again confronted with the consequences of deferred maintenance on the city's aging infrastructure. Officials have long known that hundreds of miles of city water lines have deteriorated and need replacement, with many past the century mark. But in recent years, L.A.'s elected leaders have been unwilling to hike water rates enough to fix th...More >>
    As UCLA tallied the damage from rampant flooding triggered by the rupture of a 90-year-old city water line, Los Angeles city leaders on Wednesday were once again confronted with the consequences of deferred maintenance on the city's aging infrastructure. Officials have long known that hundreds of miles of city water lines have deteriorated and need replacement, with many past the century mark. But in recent years, L.A.'s elected leaders have been unwilling to hike water rates enough to fix th...More >>
  • Trial exposes CEO's calls, texts to Va. first lady

    Trial exposes CEO's calls, texts to Va. first lady

    Friday, August 1 2014 5:26 PM EDT2014-08-01 21:26:38 GMT
    The key witness in the corruption trial of Virginia's former governor and his wife said his association with the couple was fraught with bad decisions - but an affair with the first lady was not one of them.More >>
    Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's wife exchanged 1,200 text messages and phone calls with the CEO of a dietary supplement company in less than two years, including 52 in one day, according to evidence presented...More >>