Net Metering Debate Ends With Compromise

November 15, 2013

You may have heard something about this whole net metering debate, lots of ads, lots of accusations, lots of money being spent. Late Thursday night, the Arizona Corporation Commission narrowly voted to add a fee of around $5 to the monthly utility bills of future roof-top solar customers. It does not apply to homeowners who have their systems installed by the end of the year.

Under net metering, ratepayers with solar systems send their excess power back to the grid. Arizona Public Service credits them for that. Homeowners can then use that credit to buy power they need when the sun is not shining.

The 70 cents per kilowatt hour fee approved by the Corporation Commission means a monthly charge of less than $5 for a common-size seven kilowatt system, and it is a fraction of what APS had requested. The utility had wanted monthly fees of $50 to $100, arguing solar customers were not paying their fair share to maintain the grid, and that non-solar customers were being forced to pick up the slack. Jenna Shaver is a spokeswoman for APS and spoke about the decision.

The fee that the commission agreed to came out of a compromise brokered between Arizona’s Residential Utility Consumer Office and the solar installation industry. Bryan Miller added to the discussion. He is the vice president of public policy at the residential solar company Sunrun and the president of the Alliance for Solar Choice.