Net Metering Fee Approved by Arizona Utility Commission

In a closely watched case surrounding the issue of net metering (selling power back to the grid) the Arizona Corporation Commission which regulates utilities in the state this week approved the collection of fees by Arizona Public Service Co. from customers who sell power to the utility from rooftop solar installations.

Bloomberg reports that:

Arizona Public is required to buy solar power from customers with rooftop panels, and the commission agreed with its argument that the policy unfairly shifts some of the utility’s costs to people without panels. Imposing a fee designed to address this issue may prompt power companies in other states to follow suit, and will discourage some people from installing new systems, according to the Sierra Club.

There was a hotly debated campaign leading up to this decision in which the utility spent over $3 million making their case (10 times the amount spent by the solar industry), but the agreed-upon fee was far less than the $50-100 per month that Arizona Public was asking for. The commission set the fee at 70 cents per kilowatt sold back to the utility — which will mean that the average monthly fee that solar generating customers will pay will be around $5 dollars per month.

The decision was not a complete loss or victory for either side. The net metering system was left intact, but Arizona regulators are agreeing in this decision that there is a responsiblity for people who are using the grid’s infrastructure to sell electricity to the grid, but it doesn’t really address the question of who should bear the cost if and when people leave the grid completely, as new technology makes off-grid living more of a possibility.

But this is not likely to be the end of the debate. The Arizona Republic quotes Commissioner Bob Burns who noted ““This is the tip of the iceberg . . . who pays for the grid when people leave is the biggest issue we’ll face.”

  • GreenWin

    The transition from centralized, large grid-based energy production to Distributed Energy Resources returns significant benefit to communities. Primarily the decreased demand for fossil-fired centralized power plants. Eventually this will include the decommissioning of hydroelectric dams, thousands of miles of transmission cable and towers, dramatically increased energy security. Utilities have a choice, cling to their old models, or support the expansion of distributed energy.

    Microgrids are a good choice for utilities and startups to invest in. A microgrid links neighborhood DERs together, providing UPS and load balance services at a low cost to subscribers. Over-engineered not-so-smartgrid inventions like remote power control and denial of service are unnecessary in these systems. Subscribers to a microgrid support each other and the community by each contributing a portion of their generated energy to backup services and e.g. no-cost energy for community centers, schools, clinics, municipal buildings.

    LENR-powered microgrids replace the aged and ailing national grid with a simpler, cost effective community-based energy model. As this model is implemented, fossil/fission power plants can be decommissioned. To re-purpose outdated coal-fired power plants with LENR are temporary demo projects. Attempts to prop up the old grid with a new heat source is unimaginative at best. It is akin to upgrading ice house refrigeration, insisting home owners continue to take delivery of ice for ice boxes.

    • roseland67

      We are bidding multiple microgrid projects now, mostly north America,
      diesel, nat. gas, some solar and wind,
      virtually all are critical power applications.
      LENR, would be obvious choice if scalable and safe.
      Imagine trials would start with small facilities, data centers etc,
      but I could see this expandable to industrial parks, military bases,
      hospitals, air traffic control etc.
      However, these microgrid projects are not being considered to
      save money on electric bills, but to stay operational during
      a separation from the utility, Hurricane Sandy disaster type events.

  • Omega Z

    Drones to guide you.

    Everything we’ve come to expect from Big Government Funded Research. They Over Thunk it.

    They are great at taking a simple Idea & creating a massive overpriced project. Likely, when this becomes implemented, They will add about $5K to the tuition fees to cover it’s cost & maintenance. And medical costs for when you get whacked in the head.

    Phase II likely involves Bots that you climb on & transports you where you need to go.

    ME- I’d just create an App for your smart phone using a map & GPS coordinates to show Where you are, with a line on the map to where you want to go. And if that’s not enough, A real-time Icon/Avatar to show you on the map as you follow said line. You’ll know exactly where you are all the time. Maybe Siri can talk you though it? You’ll also get where your going in the time you would spend waiting on the drone to get to your start location.

  • Omega Z

    I don’t have an Issue with this.
    All that’s up for debate is the Fee.

    They are using someone else’s Equipment & making money doing it.
    Say you neighbor borrowed your car & used it for a Taxi.
    He supplies his own Fuel, but stiffs you for costs/payments & upkeep.
    Easy to make a profit when it’s at someone else’s expense.

    Of Course when the neighbors car is repo-ed or breaks down because he doesn’t have the money to keep/maintain it. You to are out of business.
    Same would apply to the Grid, except it would just collapse in decay.
    That Electricity your selling back to them will go no where without it. If you wanted to sell it, You would have to build the distribution lines to do so.

    Used to be a Rule. You Play, You Pay.
    And As Said, All that’s up for debate is the Fee.
    Not An Issue where I live. Everything is already separated.
    Something like $14 a month whether I use a 100Kw or a 10,000Kw. Just a Flat fee. Only way to avoid it is to disconnect.

    Just Wait until the Government eliminates subsidies & replace them with an Income tax. Just like the coming mileage fees on EV Cars.

  • mytakeis

    Who pays for a service which has outlived its utility. (Ice for your icebox).

    • Fortyniner

      That seems to depend on how many politicians said ‘stranded’ utility can, er, persuade to move some goalposts for them.