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Is Solar Net Metering Ending in Arizona?

Probably, but the future of Solar in Arizona¬†doesn’t look quite as dark as it seems!

For those of you just tuning in, Net Metering refers to the agreement homeowners make with the Utility company when they install rooftop solar. It works pretty simply, any excess electricity produced that you don’t use right away at the house gets back-fed onto the electric grid. They get credited exactly how many kWh they put onto the grid to be used later on that year. It is a 1-to-1 transfer ratio, so they get to use the credits later on without losing any in the transfer. If any credits are leftover at the end of the year, the utility company pays a set rate for those, typically around 2-4 cents per kWh. However, most of the electricity that is being made throughout the year, will be used sometime that year and will still carry the retail value for electricity, roughly 13-14 cents per kWh.

Utility companies have been going back and forth with ACC utility regulators about changing the net metering policies, since the beginning days of rooftop solar, with every new rate case spreading more uncertainty for homeowners looking into solar for themselves. I remember meeting with my very first customer at the start of my solar career; they were worried that TEP was going to make drastic changes to rooftop solar’s net metering guidelines before they could get their own panel array put up. If you read the disclaimer on their electric bill, you probably would too.  That was years ago though and no changes have been made yet, although it feels like this game of chicken is well into overtime.

For those of us that have been watching this grudge match from the beginning, the finale on the horizon is a sight for sore eyes.

Recently, the Phoenix-based Utility, APS reached an agreement with local solar and consumer advocacy groups to set the export rate for excess electricity produced by rooftop solar panels. This is not an official ACC decision, so it carries no real weight, but it is a sign of things to come.

These are the basics:

  • The plan would get rid of net metering policies for all new homeowners signing up after the decision is final
  • Current solar customers would be grandfathered in for 20 years to the old net metering policies
  • New customers signing up would be paid 12.9 cents per kWh for all their excess electricity

If the light bulb hasn’t clicked yet, this isn’t a very big difference from today’s policies. In fact, for most solar customers under our plans, today’s bills would only change by a few dollars.

Not quite the dark future you were expecting, was it?


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