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APS’s Proposal to Change Net-Metering

(download full brief)

updated December 2013

The essentials

  • Rooftop solar installations have exponentially increased in recent years, in Arizona and nationally. With the continued increase penetration of distributed generation from rooftop solar installations, utilities have begun re-evaluating the price structures they use to compensate owners for the electricity their installations feed into the grid.
  • Currently, Arizona Public Service Company’s (APS) net-metering program compensates a solar rooftop owner at retail rates for the excess electricity the solar rooftop installation exports to the grid.
  • APS recently proposed to reduce compensation for electricity put onto the grid by solar rooftop installations, reducing the value that rooftop installations provide to their owners.
  • APS argues that the current net-metering rates effectively subsidize rooftop solar owners and unfairly shift costs from solar rooftop owners to non-solar rooftop owners. Rooftop solar installations also decrease residential electricity demand, thereby decreasing APS’s revenue.
  • The solar industry opposes the proposal because they argue the current plan fairly compensates for the value solar provides to the system, and will stall the development of the industry. Free market proponents also argue that the policy hurts competition and endorses the regulated monopoly utility model.
  • On October 1, 2013, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) staff rejected both of APS’s suggestions for net-metering changes. Instead, they recommended addressing the distributed generation concerns during the next APS rate-case.
  • On November 14, 2013, the ACC voted to implement a $0.70/kW fee for customers with rooftop solar installations who participate in their net metering program. The fee equals roughly $5/month for a typical residential installation. The ACC agreed to review the net metering policy in more depth during the next APS rate case.