A war for a dollar


An energy war is sizzling in Arizona, with utilities pitted against the solar industry, environmentalists and even some free-market Republicans. The fight basically boils down to dollars: How much can an Arizonan with a solar system save on his electricity bill, and what will those savings cost other ratepayers?

The savings are currently sizable, thanks to Arizona's net-metering program, considered one of the nation's most robust. Under it, the power generated by panels is subtracted from that used by the household; homeowners are charged only for the net amount used. Participants can theoretically zero out their utility bill, and even get an end-of-year check if they use less power than they produce.

But the state's largest utility, Arizona Public Service (APS), says net meterers don't pay their fair share for using the grid, leaving ratepayers without solar installations to pick up the tab. So in July, APS asked the Arizona Corporation Commission -- the state's utility regulator -- to choose one of two proposals, each of which would result in larger electricity bills for new rooftop solar.

Both sides have spouted overblown rhetoric: The solar industry, allied with a group of pro-solar Republicans, says APS' proposed "tax on the sun" would cripple or kill Arizona's solar industry. APS allies -- including a shady conservative group called the 60 Plus Association -- claim that non-solar ratepayers are subsidizing California billionaire solar companies with skyrocketing electricity bills.

High Country News tried to cut through the hyperbolic haze by stripping the issue down to naked numbers to determine just what the utility's proposals might mean for Arizonans.

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Idaho Power is waging war on renewable energy. Is it winning?
Cecil Sparks
Cecil Sparks
Nov 26, 2013 09:35 PM
I am impressed with this professional base of web information on SOLAR in AZ and the ACC.

I am wanting to get a Solar PV system installed and trying my best to get a true break-even analysis .. with guessing rate increases, factoring panel degrade and including cost of money .. etc. etc. and of course working with my last 12 months kwh usage and billing amounts. My big concern is rebates and incentives.
I think I understand the 30% FED tax Credit .. the 25% ( $1000 MAX ) AZ tax Credit .. but the APS incentives have me spinning. I see on the APS web site that the APS / ACC ran out of 2013 funding in Sept 2013 and pending the ACC to renew ( at what level ? ) for 2014.

I understand the new Jan 1 , 2014 ACC / APS $.70 per KW ( my case $4.55 on 6.5KW PV ) and even Bigger issue open door for new customers having additional charges in the future. But I believe to get any Possible 2014 APS / ACC incentive I need to file my applications in 2014 and then be subject to those new customer changes ...

Question is if I contract and sign in Nov / Dec 2013 ( and avoid 2014 new fees .. and loss possible 2014 APS ? ACC incentives ) how much am I likely to lose in incentives ..

Wait my problem gets worse .. some sources tell me the APS / ACC incentive in 2013 was $1.50 per watt ( $1.50 x 1,000 = $1,500 per KW ) and so my proposed 6.50 KW PV system Would have been $1,500 x 6.5 = $9,750. so 2014 similar ??
But other sources tell me the APS / ACC in 2013 ( and projected 2014 ) is only $0.10 per watt .. i.e. $0.10 x 1,000 x 6.50 = ONLY $650.

That is a make or break situation for a reasonable break even period analysis !!!

Which is it ????

Also My best research suggests a recent few years 5% rate increase not 8% as some suggest... What do you think ???
Yes another make or break analysis factor point ..

Thanks a Million .. ( well $ .70 times something : )

Cecil Sparks