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Arizona Solar Center Blog

Commentary from Arizona Solar Center Board Members and invited contributors.

While blog entries are initiated by the Solar Center, we welcome dialogue around the posted topics. Your expertise and perspective are highly valued -- so if you haven't logged in and contributed, please do so!

Rooftop Solar Users: M-m-m-my Generation

Salt River Project management has proposed dramatic changes to its residential electricity rates that carry significant impacts for its more than 12,000 rooftop solar customers.

SRP’s proposal will create a new rate class that charges rooftop solar customers using a standard that differs from the one applied to all other residential customers.  The new solar rate relies primarily on a demand charge that penalizes customers who have a high peak demand, and rewards those that have a low peak demand.

If approved, most residential customers will continue to be charged a fee based on their total consumption in a given month.  It’s a fee based on a set price for each kilowatt hour of electricity they use. 

Solar customers, on the other hand, will be charged using a complex system that includes a sliding fee based on the highest capacity (demand) required in any 15-minute interval during a billing cycle.

The proposal is the latest effort to address the cost-shift that utilities maintain occurs because solar customers don’t pay their fair share of the “true” cost of service.  The theory being that the current fee per kilowatt-hour includes the cost for SRP fixed costs such as building and maintaining its infrastructure. Rooftop solar customers, by virtue of their on-site generation, are allegedly being under-charged because they store excess generation on the grid for later use at no cost -- thus not paying their share of the fixed infrastructure costs.

In other words, the utility wants compensation for lost revenue attributed to solar customers whose excess generation is stored on the system for use later by that customer through a credit process.

So why not charge a storage fee?

But that isn’t what SRP is proposing to do.

A solar rooftop system is just one of several energy efficiency measures that a typical SRP customer can take in an effort to manage home energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint. These improvements do not come cheaply.

Unfortunately SRP doesn’t know, or isn’t telling, how much generation any given customer stores on their system for use at a later time. The customer doesn't know that either--but he or she does know that not all of their generation is excess, and as such not all of it should be taxed by the utility to compensate for its lost revenue.

The amount of self-generated energy used on-site at the time of generation varies by customer.  Over the years I have read reports that this number may be as high as 80 percent.  If this number is close to accurate, that means a typical customer stores only 20 percent of his or her generation on the SRP grid.

But the new pricing plan doesn’t propose a fee for this storage.  Instead, it creates a new way of charging the rooftop solar customer that severely limits personal control over their energy bills. 

The amount of energy used on-site at the time of generation is no different than any other energy efficiency measure available to consumers.  It reduces the total energy consumption. But, the new pricing plan will treat it, and the solar customer in general, differently.

(article continues below)

mmmmy-generation.jpg

Most electric utility customers don’t have the tools to reduce their demand. If the customer doesn’t have the ability to avoid using energy at a certain time and have the information to do it – they won’t. As such, the rooftop solar customer doesn’t control when their refrigerator kicks on or whether that happens to occur at the same time their air conditioning is running – thus causing a spike in demand and a higher demand charge for that month.  And since these spikes happen with all SRP customers, why is the utility proposing this measurement as a method of charging its solar customers?

Bottom line: SRP is punishing solar customers with the wrong “crime,” one that is committed by all customers, not just those with solar.  SRP should instead address the issue directly and look at a rate plan that charges for the actual costs solar customers incur, to wit, the storage costs of their excess generated energy.  After all, this tug of war is really about that “excess” generation. Problem is, nobody knows how much we are talking about, nor does anybody know the appropriate value or cost that “excess” generation provides, or inflicts, to the grid

Jim Arwood
Communications Director
Arizona Solar Center

(*For the purpose of full-disclosure, Mr. Arwood, is himself an SRP rooftop solar customer.)

Question:

Are new utility pricing plans discriminatory against net-metered solar users?

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Comments 11

Peter Schumann on Sunday, 18 January 2015 08:03

Frankly, I think this is outrageous! In a state where there is abundance of sun energy SRP wants to throttle back this development to "maintain it's costs". This is the first time in history where utilities have real competition and like typical monopolies they try, at all costs, to kill it!

I suggested at a Town Hall meeting that they in fact should encourage self generation so as to lower their infrastructure grid costs. The grid is going to be built to handle peak use by all so it will be there whether self generated solar or not.. And if this corporation is a " non profit" , why such a draconian measure?

As individuals, we have the right to purchase our energy from whatever source we deem beneficial. Problem is, this is very new to utilities who'll do what it takes to maintain the status quo..

Jim, I'm in a position where I can produce a tv commercial to voice our opposition to this madness.. All I need is sponsors. Can you help with this??

Peter Schumann

Frankly, I think this is outrageous! In a state where there is abundance of sun energy SRP wants to throttle back this development to "maintain it's costs". This is the first time in history where utilities have real competition and like typical monopolies they try, at all costs, to kill it! I suggested at a Town Hall meeting that they in fact should encourage self generation so as to lower their infrastructure grid costs. The grid is going to be built to handle peak use by all so it will be there whether self generated solar or not.. And if this corporation is a " non profit" , why such a draconian measure? As individuals, we have the right to purchase our energy from whatever source we deem beneficial. Problem is, this is very new to utilities who'll do what it takes to maintain the status quo.. Jim, I'm in a position where I can produce a tv commercial to voice our opposition to this madness.. All I need is sponsors. Can you help with this?? Peter Schumann
Guest - James Pitre on Sunday, 18 January 2015 09:55

Beyond outrageous. We spent good money to install solar several years ago in the belief that it not only would lower my power bills, but would also be a benefit for SRP & society as a whole. Now SRP wants to change the rules NO! We already pay a monthly "service charge" of about $18.00. To add to the offense, they pay $.031 per kilowatt hour for any overage generated when their generating cost (not including the grid) is closer to $.07 - maybe more. In our case we generate more electricity than we use overall - and SRP pays 3 cents /kilowatt hour and moves it down the street a few blocks to sell for the going retail rate 10 cents plus depending on the tariff. And the big guys rip us off again, although why a non-profit would do that is a mystery.

I can't do TV ads, but am available to do most anything.

Jim Pitre

Beyond outrageous. We spent good money to install solar several years ago in the belief that it not only would lower my power bills, but would also be a benefit for SRP & society as a whole. Now SRP wants to change the rules NO! We already pay a monthly "service charge" of about $18.00. To add to the offense, they pay $.031 per kilowatt hour for any overage generated when their generating cost (not including the grid) is closer to $.07 - maybe more. In our case we generate more electricity than we use overall - and SRP pays 3 cents /kilowatt hour and moves it down the street a few blocks to sell for the going retail rate 10 cents plus depending on the tariff. And the big guys rip us off again, although why a non-profit would do that is a mystery. I can't do TV ads, but am available to do most anything. Jim Pitre
Jim Stack on Monday, 19 January 2015 08:17

The Who, good title and song about this Self Generation issue as SRP calls the people who help the G-G-GRID

written by Peter Townshend.

People try to put us d-down
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Just because we get around
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)

My generation
This is my generation, baby

Why don't you all f-fade away
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Don't try to dig what we all s-s-say
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm not trying to cause a big s-s-sensation
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm just talkin' 'bout my g-g-generation
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)

My generation
This is my generation, baby

Why don't you all f-fade away
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)
And don't try to d-dig what we all s-s-say
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm not trying to cause a b-big s-s-sensation
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm just talkin' 'bout my g-g-generation
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)

My generation
This is my generation, baby
My, my, my, my generation
My, my, my, my generation

People try to put us d-down
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Just because we g-g-get around
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Yeah, I hope I die before I get old
(Talkin' 'bout my generation)

My generation
This is my generation, baby
My, my, my, my generation
My, my, my, my generation

Talkin' 'bout my generation
(My generation)
Talkin' 'bout my generation
(My generation)
Talkin' 'bout my generation
(Is my generation baby)
Talkin' 'bout my generation
(This is my generation)

Talkin' 'bout my generation
(This is my generation)
Talkin' 'bout my generation
(This is my generation)
Talkin' 'bout my generation
(This is my generation)
Talkin' 'bout my generation
(This is my generation)

Songwriters
PETER TOWNSHEND

Published by
Lyrics © T.R.O. INC.

The Who, good title and song about this Self Generation issue as SRP calls the people who help the G-G-GRID written by Peter Townshend. People try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation) Just because we get around (Talkin' 'bout my generation) Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation) I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation) My generation This is my generation, baby Why don't you all f-fade away (Talkin' 'bout my generation) Don't try to dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin' 'bout my generation) I'm not trying to cause a big s-s-sensation (Talkin' 'bout my generation) I'm just talkin' 'bout my g-g-generation (Talkin' 'bout my generation) My generation This is my generation, baby Why don't you all f-fade away (Talkin' 'bout my generation) And don't try to d-dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin' 'bout my generation) I'm not trying to cause a b-big s-s-sensation (Talkin' 'bout my generation) I'm just talkin' 'bout my g-g-generation (Talkin' 'bout my generation) My generation This is my generation, baby My, my, my, my generation My, my, my, my generation People try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation) Just because we g-g-get around (Talkin' 'bout my generation) Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation) Yeah, I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation) My generation This is my generation, baby My, my, my, my generation My, my, my, my generation Talkin' 'bout my generation (My generation) Talkin' 'bout my generation (My generation) Talkin' 'bout my generation (Is my generation baby) Talkin' 'bout my generation (This is my generation) Talkin' 'bout my generation (This is my generation) Talkin' 'bout my generation (This is my generation) Talkin' 'bout my generation (This is my generation) Talkin' 'bout my generation (This is my generation) Songwriters PETER TOWNSHEND Published by Lyrics © T.R.O. INC.
Pat on Monday, 19 January 2015 11:30

Jim, We became residents of AZ in 2012, having moved from beautiful Colorado. We are now doubting this decision when something like taxing residents for being aware of energy conservation and carbon footprint, which is so very crucial to the future of our planet, is even being considered. Everyone in this country, let alone the whole world has no choice at this time but to do what they can to conserve energy if we want the future generations to survive. As was mentioned above, we paid dearly for our solar panels. And now SRP, after preaching for how long that everyone needs to conserve, wants us to pay more. Almost amounts to a bait and switch concept. Arizona should be the leader in solar conservation and show the world what can be and should be done. Instead, they are campaigning and making news that discourages people to save energy. The energy companies should be using their resources to create MORE solar and water conservation options and make Az a proud example. Instead, they are embarrassing us with wasting valuable resources to 'punish' us for trying to save the planet.

Thank you for your work.

Pat Strand

Jim, We became residents of AZ in 2012, having moved from beautiful Colorado. We are now doubting this decision when something like taxing residents for being aware of energy conservation and carbon footprint, which is so very crucial to the future of our planet, is even being considered. Everyone in this country, let alone the whole world has no choice at this time but to do what they can to conserve energy if we want the future generations to survive. As was mentioned above, we paid dearly for our solar panels. And now SRP, after preaching for how long that everyone needs to conserve, wants us to pay more. Almost amounts to a bait and switch concept. Arizona should be the leader in solar conservation and show the world what can be and should be done. Instead, they are campaigning and making news that discourages people to save energy. The energy companies should be using their resources to create MORE solar and water conservation options and make Az a proud example. Instead, they are embarrassing us with wasting valuable resources to 'punish' us for trying to save the planet. Thank you for your work. Pat Strand
Jim Stack on Friday, 06 February 2015 16:01

There will be a meeting Monday AM, Public organize pre meeting 8 AM
PRESENTATIONS AND COMMENTS
Feb. 9, 9:30 a.m.
PERA Club 1 E. Continental Drive, Tempe*

from SRP http://www.srpnet.com/prices/priceprocess/pdfx/PPN.pdf

There will be a meeting Monday AM, Public organize pre meeting 8 AM PRESENTATIONS AND COMMENTS Feb. 9, 9:30 a.m. PERA Club 1 E. Continental Drive, Tempe* from SRP http://www.srpnet.com/prices/priceprocess/pdfx/PPN.pdf
Jim Stack on Monday, 09 February 2015 14:25

There was a very big turn out this morning at SRP the Pera club. We will see how the news covers it.

There was a very big turn out this morning at SRP the Pera club. We will see how the news covers it.
Guest - Peter on Monday, 09 February 2015 14:35

yep..! I would say in excess of 600.. I was there.. I'd like to produce a web or TV commercial denouncing SRP but I don't think we have time..

My website:
http://www.topdogmediallc.com

yep..! I would say in excess of 600.. I was there.. I'd like to produce a web or TV commercial denouncing SRP but I don't think we have time.. My website: www.topdogmediallc.com
Jim Stack on Tuesday, 10 February 2015 15:30

We were told. Yesterday’s SRP meeting was extended to restart on Thursday Feb 12 at 9:30 pm (same location we think, trying to confirm.)

Recent news-
http://www.kpho.com/story/28065864/srp-proposed-rate-hike-draws-ire-at-tempe-meeting

We were told. Yesterday’s SRP meeting was extended to restart on Thursday Feb 12 at 9:30 pm (same location we think, trying to confirm.) Recent news- http://www.kpho.com/story/28065864/srp-proposed-rate-hike-draws-ire-at-tempe-meeting
Guest - Marie Egan on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 06:49

I'm all for conservation, but honestly, I put solar in to save money. I'm planning to retire in 10 years or so, and was hoping to have electricity be one less financial burden to pay for on a retirement budget. And unless battery backup becomes more efficient and less expensive, that probably won't happen for me either. The bad part is that even if it was a way to divorce myself from the grid, there is talk that it won't be allowed. So, now I have a $15000 outlay, and possibly the replacement of my inverters around the 10 year time frame that probably won't be recouped, and my panels will be less efficient then which will cause me to have an outrageous SRP bill due to peak energy use being higher. All while supplying my neighbors with energy produced while my panels are generating lots of electrons during the heat of the day. Not sure how that isn't helping save the infrastructure of some burden that we supposedly are not paying for now.

I was wondering why SRP never offered any comment during the brouhaha with APS and suspected they had a plan of their own they would unveil at a later time. What I didn't realize, is that an outside agency like the Corporation Commission did not have any input into what they did because they were a government agency. If there is no one with authority to review the paperwork they have to submit to justify their proposal, and determine if it is reasonable or not, then they are just wolves preying on sheep with no shepherd to protect them. I'm not sure if the SRP board would ever vote against any proposal they submitted. And these meetings to appease customers are a sham. I hope that by some stray chance, the board is influenced by what happened with APS and makes a more sensible decision about what really should be paid by consumers producing their own power, but I'm not hopeful. And I'm not sure this will be the end of it either. There isn't anything to stop them if they decide in 5 years it isn't enough. There needs to be oversight of any agency that provides a necessary utility to insure they aren't gouging. But not sure how we can make that happen.

I'm all for conservation, but honestly, I put solar in to save money. I'm planning to retire in 10 years or so, and was hoping to have electricity be one less financial burden to pay for on a retirement budget. And unless battery backup becomes more efficient and less expensive, that probably won't happen for me either. The bad part is that even if it was a way to divorce myself from the grid, there is talk that it won't be allowed. So, now I have a $15000 outlay, and possibly the replacement of my inverters around the 10 year time frame that probably won't be recouped, and my panels will be less efficient then which will cause me to have an outrageous SRP bill due to peak energy use being higher. All while supplying my neighbors with energy produced while my panels are generating lots of electrons during the heat of the day. Not sure how that isn't helping save the infrastructure of some burden that we supposedly are not paying for now. I was wondering why SRP never offered any comment during the brouhaha with APS and suspected they had a plan of their own they would unveil at a later time. What I didn't realize, is that an outside agency like the Corporation Commission did not have any input into what they did because they were a government agency. If there is no one with authority to review the paperwork they have to submit to justify their proposal, and determine if it is reasonable or not, then they are just wolves preying on sheep with no shepherd to protect them. I'm not sure if the SRP board would ever vote against any proposal they submitted. And these meetings to appease customers are a sham. I hope that by some stray chance, the board is influenced by what happened with APS and makes a more sensible decision about what really should be paid by consumers producing their own power, but I'm not hopeful. And I'm not sure this will be the end of it either. There isn't anything to stop them if they decide in 5 years it isn't enough. There needs to be oversight of any agency that provides a necessary utility to insure they aren't gouging. But not sure how we can make that happen.
Guest - Schumann on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 08:54

Totally agree Marie..! I was there..! Why we have to go to these lengths to shout "enough is enough" from these monopoly (Non Profit) pariahs is beyond me! SRP is stuck in "the way its always been" syndrome. They should embrace solar and ask people to generate more output, buy it at a higher price from self gen so they won't need to "deliver" it or "build more coal plants".. They are mired in the past!!

Don't despair..! Market forces will steamroll these people. I'm working on a new control system that will NOT be grid tied... and solve the night /dark times issues.. I won't divulge it here.. yet!!

Totally agree Marie..! I was there..! Why we have to go to these lengths to shout "enough is enough" from these monopoly (Non Profit) pariahs is beyond me! SRP is stuck in "the way its always been" syndrome. They should embrace solar and ask people to generate more output, buy it at a higher price from self gen so they won't need to "deliver" it or "build more coal plants".. They are mired in the past!! Don't despair..! Market forces will steamroll these people. I'm working on a new control system that will NOT be grid tied... and solve the night /dark times issues.. I won't divulge it here.. yet!!
James Pitre on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 09:15

Marie - there are many more of us out here that are in the same position that you are. You have stated our common problem well and I wholeheartedly concur with your description of what we face. If there ever was a case of bait and switch, this is it - and I for one will not stand by and let their nonsense proceed without a fight. The only possible way we can bring about a change in the "Big Boys" attitude is to join together and speak as one. Here we have the SRP/APS faction protecting and feathering their own nests when they are in fact a Public Utility primarily for the benefit of of the public they serve - that also includes cleaning up our environment by using and facilitating the use of clean alternative energy. Much of what they are supposed to be protecting and doing seems to be overlooked.
Jim

Marie - there are many more of us out here that are in the same position that you are. You have stated our common problem well and I wholeheartedly concur with your description of what we face. If there ever was a case of bait and switch, this is it - and I for one will not stand by and let their nonsense proceed without a fight. The only possible way we can bring about a change in the "Big Boys" attitude is to join together and speak as one. Here we have the SRP/APS faction protecting and feathering their own nests when they are in fact a Public Utility primarily for the benefit of of the public they serve - that also includes cleaning up our environment by using and facilitating the use of clean alternative energy. Much of what they are supposed to be protecting and doing seems to be overlooked. Jim
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