For the past several months APS has carried out a handful of Technical Conferences to determine the value or cost of their successful solar Net Metering program.
If you would like some net metering background, click here for our previous blog post.
In these technical conferences APS has invited industry experts to discuss the pros and cons of changing the very solar policies that have placed Arizona on the map as a solar capital. Thus far, the conversation has felt very one-sided. I’ve sat in or called in to many of the conferences and much of the audience voiced various valid concerns about what some foreshadowed changes could bring to the industry.
At this time, both solar and non-solar APS customers pay the same rate for power. Everyone has the same rate plan options and they generally all work like this: you pay for the power that you consume based on current power rates regardless of whether or not you have a solar system on your rooftop.
The benefit for solar homeowners is that they require much less power from APS and therefore pay much less throughout the year. This is intuitively sensible. However, APS feels that because solar homeowners still need the grid in order for their systems to function, they are saving too much money. They claim that solar homeowners are passing costs over to non-solar homeowners, APS of course strategically leaving out the details that built this claim. The truth is that solar is costing APS money, so APS wants to raise rates to recover this money, and doing so will most affect non-solar customers since they are not producing their own power.
The bottom line is that for APS, solar is bad for business. Instead of modifying their business model to sustainably and innovatively capitalize on the benefits of clean renewable energy, they are sticking to their outdated ways, just as the horse and carriage fought the automobile.
The technical conferences have been a formality required by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) which regulates APS as a monopoly. The end game for APS is to discourage as much as possible, or artificially make money off of, the advancement of solar, because that is what makes most sense in their current business model.
I do not fault APS for their attempt to recover lost revenue; that is business. I fault them for refusing to grow their business model into the 21st century, a move that would recover them a whole lot more for a whole lot longer.
APS has a truly incredible opportunity to change the way we power our state. Given their massive size, they could singlehandedly accomplish more than all of our right-minded solar installers combined.
Let’s be honest, the growth of solar in this state has not been thanks to APS. APS is not paying the utility solar rebates. Rate payers are covering this because APS is required to supply the grid with a minimum amount of renewable energy as mandated by the ACC. They continually tout their “love of solar” all the while inhibiting our potential to grow this industry in a sustainable way that is a win for everyone.
But there is one thing they have to be proud of. I was surfing around the APS website and came across this earth shattering statistic: