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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news November 25, 2015

11/13/2013 6:03:00 AM
APS solar fee hike sparks opposition
Les Stukenberg/The Daily CourierPrescott Valley resident Paul Lovell just had solar panels installed on his home three weeks ago.
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Prescott Valley resident Paul Lovell just had solar panels installed on his home three weeks ago.
Ken Hedler
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT VALLEY - Paul Lovell said he paid about $20,000 for a rooftop solar system, and sees it as an investment.

"Instead of investing money in mutual funds, we invested in solar," said Lovell, who lives with his wife, Linda, on North La Jolla Drive here.

Lovell, 65, said his electricity bill averages $100 a month year round, and believes he will recoup his investment within the 20-year guarantee of the system that he bought from Solarone Energy Group. He added he expects Arizona Public Service to hook it to the electricity grid next week.

However, APS is trying to change its formula, known as net metering, that benefits Lovell and other homeowners who have installed or are waiting to install rooftop solar systems.

Lovell, other homeowners and the solar industry oppose changes in the net metering policy. The Arizona Corporation Commission staff is recommending against changing the policy, and the five-member panel will deliberate on it today and likely decide the matter Thursday.

Any policy change would not affect Lovell and other homeowners who signed up by Oct. 15, according to the cost-shift proposal that APS submitted July 12 to the ACC. The grandfather clause would be in effect for 20 years.

Homeowners who did not meet the Oct. 15 deadline would have to pay $50 to $100 more a month to APS, said Rich Logan, whose system is operating at his home in the Viewpoint subdivision in Prescott Valley.

"That would cut off solar in the whole state here," said Logan, a retired furniture wholesaler who ordered his solar installation from Blazing Sky.

Logan and other homeowners said they would not have signed up for rooftop solar if they did not receive the current benefits, and oppose any change in the policy.

"That would essentially wipe out any savings," said George Lee, who owns a house on the same street as Lovell and ordered his rooftop through SolarCity. "I don't want APS to change the system because nobody else would benefit."

However, APS officials contend the state needs to change the net metering policy to increase fairness, arguing that homeowners who do not have solar installations are subsidizing homeowners who have them.

The application from APS states rooftop solar installations have increased significantly each year in the utility's service territory since January 2009. The number of systems installed grew from approximately 900 in January 2009 to more than 18,000 as of June 2013, and continues to grow by approximately 500 new rooftop solar systems each month.

Prescott Valley and other communities in the quad-city area appear to be part of that trend.

In Prescott Valley alone, SolarCity, the dominant company in the area, obtained 18 permits under the "residential-miscellaneous, other" category in October, according to the monthly report on building permits.

Much of the recent growth in solar installations stems from Arizona's net metering rules, according to the ACC document. The rules went into effect in May 2009.

The rules allow electric utility customers to be compensated for generating their own electricity from renewable resources, fuel cells, or combined heat and power systems. If a customer's energy production exceeds what the electric company supplies during a billing period, the utility will credit the customer's bill for subsequent billing periods for the excess generation.

In effect, the policy requires the utility company to buy excess generation at the customer's current retail rate. Lovell estimates his system will generate 16 percent beyond the needs for his home.

APS claims that on average the cost shift each year is approximately $1,000 per residential net metering system, with annual costs shifting to other customers at approximately $18 million.

APS proposes two options. One would establishing a demand-based rate for customers with solar panels or other distributed energy systems.

The other option calls for crediting customers who install solar or other systems for all the power that they generate. APS believes both proposals would provide more accurate charges for electricity that APS provides.

ACC staff recommended rejecting APS's proposals at this time, and evaluating them instead when APS applies for a general rate increase.

A homeowner who is awaiting APS approval of her solar installation said she does not like the fact that customers who lack the systems are paying more for electricity.

However, Anita Oneglia, who owns a home in the Pronghorn Ranch subdivision in Prescott Valley and ordered her system through SolarCity, said APS apparently "did not realize the enormous results of people taking advantage" of rooftop solar.

"Many, many people are signing up for having solar put on their roof, as you know," said Oneglia, a retired technical librarian.

Follow the reporter on Twitter @KenHedlines.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, November 15, 2013
Article comment by: To Alan

"What's the difference between government and corporations?

There ain't none."

Yes, there is. Corporations pay government for laws allowing them to do what they wish.

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: Bitter Clinger ~ Why do I have to pay for your solar panel?

APS is exactly right, and getting tax subsidies for solar panels is blatantly wrong.

If solar panels are such a good idea, and they are not, why should taxpayers have to subsidize their installation?

Homeowners, businesses, and others who wish to buy into this fallacy of 'free' power from the sun should simply buy their own equipment, pay for the install, and reap those big (non-existent) long term benefits.

The reality is, of course, that like every other 'green' idea, solar panels are likewise worthless and always problematic.

Simple truth is that the BEST source of energy remains fossil fuels. Other than that it is darkness and cold...sorry.

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: the tax is comming

Wait untill these people with ugly, expensive to maintain solar systems find out they will need to claim the money they made or sold back as income on there taxes. There is no free ride. In a few years they will be complaing about the solar company also, complainers will complain. As for a fee they pay to use aps, s power thats a no brainer they should pay to keep up the maintance if they buy the power from aps or sell it to them either way they need to pay and stop making the non solar users pay for them. I hope the acc gets this right. Im so tired of these people trying to pull a fast one on aps or srp.

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: you people dont have a clue

Solar isnt worth the investment as a single homeowner it will cost you more in the long run. O ya guess what those solar people are getting rich off of you. Also either you pay for being off the grid and dont use any power or you use some power and pay for that service. You guys are crazy its so simple. Apu25u

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: first of all .

You people that are on solar should feel good about being green, along with that you should not be exempt if you use the power grid also if you do, you need to be responsible enough to understand that you should also pay for the service you want and to maintain it. If you are not using any kwh's then you shouldnt pay any extra. The only real benefit from having solar is feeling good about yourselves helping to be green, because it will never save you money unless you put no maintance into it after the 25 years that you will wait to break even. Thats the real world there, the solar guys are just trying to monopoly up this for themselves, customers wont benefit at all unless like i said theres never a hail storm or whatever also you wont be moving or you will be upside down.

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: Getting Germany

There is a federal mandate. How do you think these things get started. Anywho....cut thru the regs. This one should have everyones attention : At the end of 2012 Germany had ~400 MW of solar energy available per million people.
Italy has 267 MW / million, Belgium 254 MW /million, Czech Republic 204 MW / million and Greece at 143 MW / million. The United States is #20 down at a paltry 25 MW per million people!
Wow!! We have become a little fish. Why? Let "First of all...." tell you. We are over regulated and paying $$$ for it. Too many hands in a clean renewable energy resource. What's in your carbon footprint folks? Lets rock the energy world. Go Arizona solar.

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: First Of All Tom Steele Get Your Facts Straight

Tired of your ignorant rants making up facts.

From APS web site:

"The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) established the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) in August, 2007 to identify short– and long–term renewable energy requirements for the state. The long–term requirement is for 15 percent of retail energy sales from ACC–regulated electric utilities to come from renewable energy resources by the year 2025."

No Federal mandate, where do you come up with this stuff?

As for the CO2 issue. You won't find much in the way of scientific data to back up your claim but give me your source anyway, that is, if you have even one.

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: the truth is

Why should these people with solar have other customers pay for there solar. If you want everyone else to pay for you being hooked up to the power grid. Then just become self suportive no one else should front your ability to pull power when you want it. Carry your weight!

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: @Arizona Not as bright as our sky

Eeew! sounds like you're gonna need your shades when the sun does finally come out over there in Germany. I mean you describe homes,sheds, and even farmland and hillsides plastered with solar panels? You really think most people want to see that crap on our beautiful hillsides in Az? Sun shining on them making huge white flashes in your eyes while your trying to drive and avoid the texters at the same time....ha ha ha.. Since you think you're so "bright" just go ahead and stay in Germany next time you visit. we don't need your bright kind here

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: Zig E.

APS can't even keep the standard power on. I have lived in many places in this country and never have I lost power as often as I do here. I've lived through full on hurricanes back east and major tropical storms on the west coast and didn't loose power. But not here. Slight wind - there goes the power. A little rain - sorry, the plastic Safeway bag we have wrapped around our electrical connections just seemed to fail. Often times the power just cuts out for a few seconds for no apparent reason, just enough so I can go through the house resetting clocks. Some tech flipping switches no doubt.

APS is a total joke !

I'm already checking into buying/installing my own solar system so then APS can stick it where the sun don't shine.

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: Ronald Percival

Nothing wrong with system as is, except lower aps income. Trading power during the day for power at night is a good deal for everyone. APS should figure lower fuel usage and maintenance into this equation. Didn`t tax money pay for those dams in the first place?

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Steele

First of all, it's the federal government (Obama) directing the EPA to go solar and requiring APS to have 12% of power from wind and solar. Then, we all are charged $7.50 a month to rebate solar people who get additional rebates for having solar plus an income tax write off. And CO2 is NOT causing any warming in the world. There is proof temperatures rise BEFORE CO2 rises. The whole issue is a fraud to hurt our American economy. Check it out.

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: No blue electrons, No red electrons

The grant of a monopoly should not have allowed that monopoly to be owned by a for profit corporation and the ease of moving funds between, and the slight of hand subsidies to the corporate share holders. Therein is the problem. Break up the holdings from Pinnacle. APS is a public utility and it's existence as a corporation has only one purpose, to serve the public good. The idea that we are also subsidizing a parent for-profit corporation is in conflict with the purpose for granting the monopoly. Yes, utility regulation is way complex with its own language and acronyms, and discernible only to those studied in the field.

I notice that Pinnacle is getting its monies worth with their anti-solar propaganda. Yet, a corporation is prohibited from providing anything of value to influence any election or decision. That line was crossed when APS became a member of ALEC.

We the people have the power to correct this corruption, but electing a Republican Corporation Commission is not enlightened self interest and mindless party loyalty combined with massive corporate campaign financing. They ain't your fathers Corporation Commission, and we all got 'bait and switched'. Seriously, we have a big problem.

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: ronald Dickson

The corporation commission is securely in APS' pocket.

Each and every one of them were supported financially by APS and various black money organizations to assure their election. The Koch Brothers and ALEC also support and advise APS on how to make themselves rich at our expense.

Nowhere in the US is there a more disgusting example of corporate meddling in elections than we have here in Arizona with APS and the Arizona Corporations Commission.

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: Will Stanley

Ok, so you don't like net metering. Sounds reasonable. You spend $20,000 on a solar system. So spend a couple more thousand on a windmill to go with it. Stay off APS' greed... uh, grid altogether! If the sun is shining, you're making electricity that you need. Store the excess in batteries (for night time use) and when the sun is blocked by clouds, it's likely also windy, so open the windmill up and let it create electricity. Be totally energy independent and tell APS to put their policy where the sun don't shine! (Pardon the pun...)

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Article comment by: Joe Consumer

Have you ever taken a good look at your APS bill? Did you see all of the add-ons from meter reading to power delivery charges? Nobody has been to my meter to read it in months yet APS still charges for meter reading. What's with that?
APS wants the Corporation Commission to allow them all of these add-ons but the solar power producers are supposed to eat there construction and maintenance costs when they are only reimbursed for wholesale power. It isn’t right.

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Article comment by: Fred McIntyre

Greedy Corporations said: "...all the energy that your panels collect will then be circulated into their grid before you can use it..." and you pay retail for all the electricity you use, even if you generated it.

If true, that is corporate greed. However, my experience, in another state so it may be different than APS, is yearly the electric company would "true up" and pay us wholesale rate for excess electricity we'd generated during the year. Or, if we'd used more than we generated, charge us retail for the excess we used.

We also paid a minimal monthly fee - about $10 - less than our share of the cost of maintaining the grid. So we were subsidized to that extent.

In the above scenario, nonsolar customers are subsidizing solar customers only to the extent of the cost of maintaining the grid for which the solar customers do not pay.

When paying for electricity you use that you did not generate, it is only fair to pay retail for it. When selling electricity to the electric company, wanting to be paid more than they pay their other suppliers (wholesale) is customer greed.

Don't how APS does it.

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Article comment by: Donald R

APS is milking everyone - and I do mean milking. They are squeezing all of their customers every which way to make a penny. First with the so-called Smart Meters which they are trying to charge to Opt Out customers for, and now their solar customers who are getting the surprise of their lives. Personally I wish we had a better electric company. APS is only after the money and to heck with their customers! Contact the Arizona Corporation Commission and let your voice be heard. Speak up or shut up.

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Article comment by: Could It Be?

Thank you for investing in solar...this earth is in jeopardy and you stepped up to the plate attempting to do the right thing.

The problem is the greedy system of corporate America...

The system is truly broken from the healthcare industry (and this is not a referral to Obamacare)...the healthcare system was broken at least 15 years ago.

Insurance companies, bankers have bankrupt the U.S. Fat cats, sitting pretty while the masses are held hostage.

Insurance companies, bankers have bankrupt the U.S. Fat cats, sitting pretty while the masses are held hostage.

This country is broken and all the young 20-30 year old drug addicts and al\coholics with fried brains are not going to be there to straighten things out.

Welcome to your world!

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Article comment by: Subsidized Monopoly

The subsidization of electric production has historically been given to the stock holders of Pinnacle West, the parent company of APS. Those that are outspoken against any solar subsidy fail to mention this. The campaign APS has engaged is exactly how elections are slanted with the use of money, in the same way Pinnacle West has slanted the solar angle for maximum profit (solar angle pun intended). Pinnacle West, a subsidized monopoly, is looking out for their stockholders by realizing the diminishing profits as solar electric generation takes hold. Like the game of Monopoly, monopolies are given a set of rules to play by. The rules in place are to prevent gouging by the monopoly, rules that APS now wishes to change. A one hundred dollar fee to be hooked to the grid is breaking the rule of gouging. APS is a monopoly, subsidized by its customers. Deregulation of energy was dismissed earlier this year by the Corporation Commission. For all proponents of free market causes, this is not one. This is all about maintaining a level of profit, by a monopoly for profit. Any other argument is disingenuous.

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Article comment by: Arizona Not As Bright As Our Sky

We just returned to Prescott from a wonderful month visiting Germany. We were astounded at the amount of photovoltaic panels all over that country. Especially in Bavaria it seemed like one in ten homes supported an impressive array and the farms even more… huge arrays covering barns, sheds and even vast hillsides. There are also wind mills everywhere.

You see Germany has a goal of getting rid of CO2 producing coal powered and potentially disaster producing nuclear generation by 2050 and supplying the country with 80% of its electrical energy from renewable producers!

In July, this cloudy country logged 5.1 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity from solar power, slightly better than the 5 TWh of electricity generated by wind turbines it produced in January.

At the end of 2012 Germany had ~400 MW of solar energy available per million people.
Italy has 267 MW / million, Belgium 254 MW /million, Czech Republic 204 MW / million and Greece at 143 MW / million. The United States is #20 down at a paltry 25 MW per million people!

Germany has grey cloudy sky! Just think what we can do with our bright sunny climate! Sadly we are not as bright as our skys!

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Article comment by: Alan Whitney

What's the difference between government and corporations?

There ain't none...

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Article comment by: Solar First!

I'm not surprised by the idiotic comments on the story. Educate yourself, folks. That doesn't mean repeating the poorly-written snippets read off teleprompters by former homecoming kings and queens on the news or regurgitating misinformation spewed by blubbering commentators on the radio.
APS is being greedy, bottom line. Anyone that is using solar (including myself) in one of these systems is still paying for 'the grid'. I love the idiot that basically is quoting what that commercial said with the lady saying "I don't want to pay for my neighbor's solar". You nor that lady paid a penny for my solar. I paid for it, dolt. I also pay APS a service fee for the interface into their grid. I ALSO provide them with electricity when I am generating more than I am using (which 'neighbor', you just might be using over're welcome).
As the population grows and energy usage sky-rockets, so will the rates you and I pay. Those of us investing in solar are planning for future and are helping offset the demand. Remember the rolling blackouts in California a few years ago? It's the use of alternative energy sources that have kept those types of… (Exceeds 200-word limit)

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Article comment by: Remember The Alamo

Solar has come down alot in price. Now with federal subsidy and a kick back from APS they will pay for themselves over their lifetime. And that is supposed to be great?
Solar is fine if you want to do it but the rest of us should not have to pay for your solar. And you still need the grid as much as everyone else or your home would be quite dark at night.

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Article comment by: PT Branum knows Paul

Paul sees it as an investment opportunity better than mutual funds. Wow. Have someone do the math for you Paul. You're clearly over your head here. This is how solar stays in business,...

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