By Joe Dana | 12News
PHOENIX — As financial analysts predict Arizona Public Service (APS) will shoulder new energy demands in the coming years, two recent decisions at the Arizona Corporation Commission keep the utility monopoly comfortably in control to financially benefit from a larger electricity load.
Solar industry advocates say the recent commission votes delay or all-out prohibit healthy competition and innovation in the renewable energy market. APS tells 12News the utility is equipped to lead the transition to renewables with thoughtful, reliable solutions.
Competitive community solar is not happening in Arizona
In February, the Commission voted 5-0 for APS to re-file a proposal involving smart technology and home solar batteries for ratepayers. The commission’s vote amounts to a delay of seven months for a program that renewable industry advocates say is ready now. The commission also gave APS the option to seek an extension in October.
In March, the commission voted to give APS full “opt-in” control over a competitive solar proposal that would have allowed farmers, nonprofits, small businesses and homeowners the option to band together with third-party solar developers to build mini-solar facilities.
Critics contended the final version of the plan approved by the commission made competitive solar “so unworkable that no projects will actually be built.” Regardless, APS has already indicated it will not allow the program to exist in its service territory.
Meanwhile, 22 states have adopted competitive community solar initiatives.
“This is a risk-free opportunity. We’ve been working on this for three years and when I hear the notion, ‘gosh, we better take our time here,’ meanwhile during this same time other states have started and rolled out these tariffs,” said Court Rich, who argues before the commission on behalf of solar companies.