Monday, April 21st, 2014 - 2:37 am 
(Arizona time)

News Highlights

Flagstaff's Arizona Daily Sun calls on regulators to settle the net metering debate quickly and suggests a fairer system might be to allow APS to charge all customers a flat, minimum tie-in fee to the distribution network, much like water and gas utilities charge.

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APS explains the two potential approaches it has proposed for the ACC to consider as it relates to Arizona’s net metering rules.

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A solar advocacy group warns that Feed-In-Tariffs would have tax implications for solar rooftop owners under a proposal APS has submitted for consideration by the Arizona Corporation Commission.

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Flagstaff’s Arizona Daily Sun newspaper explores the question of how solar energy and the investor-owned electric utility business model can co-exist in the future.

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The Arizona Corporation Commission has a responsibility to Arizona citizens and utility ratepayers to decide cases based on their merits and the facts. Tom Patterson in his Aug. 14 commentary ignored the facts in his attempt to sway public opinion in favor of an APS proposal before the Commission that would change the rules regarding solar energy.

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(Jim Arwood is Director of Communications for the Arizona Solar Center.)

Clarkdale Town Council members voted Tuesday to oppose two Arizona Public Service proposals that would increase rates for rooftop solar customers. The town joins Cave Creek, renewable energy activists, and Republican Barry Goldwater Jr.'s advocacy group, Tell Utilities Solar won't be Killed, in pushing back against the rate hike.

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Arizona Public Service has been granted monopoly status to provide power in certain parts of Arizona. It's also a publicly traded company and has a fiduciary obligation to maximize profits for shareholders. This may lead the company to pursue policies that are in its interests but not those of its ratepayers. This dynamic is on clear display as APS now works on their response to the impacts created by the Arizona rooftop solar market. By its own admission, its customers' adoption of rooftop solar is eating into its profits, and potentially its stock price.

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"Win-win situation" may be a cliché, but it well describes the partnership the Chino Valley School district has entered into with Solar City and Arizona Public Service to supply solar power to four area schools. Chino Valley Schools Director of Support Services John Scholl said the solar project, which has been in the works for more than a year, will not only save the district $715,000 over 20 years but includes a side benefit of covered parking at all four schools, and will cost the schools nothing.

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For many years Arizona has strived to become the Middle East of Solar.  Will solar eventually emerge as the powerhouse industry, creating jobs and clean energy, that the state has hoped for?  More 10,000 people currently work in the renewable industry in Arizona and more than 25,000 on-site distributed solar generating systems are in place around the state.  But, Arizona is facing a new challenge of how to grow the solar market so that both consumers and utilities both benefit.  

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Against a backdrop of pending regulatory rule changes for its APS subsidiary most notably its net metering policy, Pinnacle West reported its second quarter profits rose to $131 million, or $1.18 per share, from $122 million, or $1.11 per share, in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue rose to $915 million from $878 million in the year-earlier quarter.  Analysts expected profit of $1.14 per share on revenue of $888 million.

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This Week in Energy (TWiE) discusses the emerging net-metering war between utilities & solar leasing companies, particularly in Arizona. Other topics include a discussion about whether or not utilities will abandon copper lines in the future, a review of how fringe anti-wind groups love the BBC and some thoughts on how much a problem intermittency is for renewable energy.

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Numbers related to the growth of solar in Arizona from sources such as the Solar Energy Industries Association, U.S. Solar Market Insight 2012 report, The Solar Foundation, National Solar Jobs Census 2012, APS, SRP.

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Sometimes the limitations of TV and the press of deadline don’t allow me to explain something as fully as I’d like. Usually it involves numbers, which don’t play well on TV. This is one of those times. An AZ Fact Check I reported Tuesday evening on 12 News examined a claim in a TV ad supporting APS’ proposed overhaul of Arizona’s regulations on rooftop solar: “The average home solar system adds $20,000 in costs for customers who don’t get the benefits.”

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Arizona Public Service is engaged in a campaign to undercut solar power in the state. The 18,000 APS customers with solar panels essentially get a credit on their bill for the energy they don't use from the regular electrical grid. APS complains, as an Arizona Republic story put it, "customers with solar often see their bills reduced to the point that they are no longer contributing toward routine costs associated with maintaining the power grid. That, they say, forces customers without solar to pay the entire cost of maintaining the grid, even though solar customers use the grid to get power at night or when clouds pass overhead and to distribute their excess electricity."

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A proposal by Arizona’s largest utility to rewrite the rules for rooftop solar installations sets off a heated debate on this weekend’s “12 News Sunday Square Off.”

On the roundtable: Former House Speaker Kirk Adams, now head of the 501(c)4 group Prosper Inc. that’s supporting APS’ proposals; Court Rich, an attorney with Rose Law Group who represents solar firms; and Kris Mayes, a former chair of the Arizona Corporation Commission who advocated for solar power in Arizona.

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Tucson Electric Power Co. has won state approval to buy power from a planned wind energy farm near Willcox that would be the first utility-scale project of its kind in Southern Arizona. The Arizona Corporation Commission approved the 20-year power purchase agreement between TEP and Red Horse Wind 2 LLC, which was formed by Houston-based Torch Renewable Energy to build and manage the 220-acre project.

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Arizona utilities can't use electricity generated by burning trash to meet their renewable energy requirements, a judge ruled Wednesday. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Crane McClennen rejected the Arizona Corporation Commission's arguments that it is entitled to consider power from incinerators burning waste to be the same as solar, wind and geothermal energy. The judge said that's not what the commission's own rules state.

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The advance of solar power as an economically viable source of energy is a global issue. But if there is a ground zero for solar’s evolution toward becoming a real alternative to carbon-based energy sources, it is Arizona. This state, by definition, should lead the way. The industry in Arizona is at a crisis point in its development, especially as it applies to residential rooftop solar installations.

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Arizona Public Service Co. is proposing charging customers who install rooftop solar panels $50 to $100 or more a month to cover the cost of maintaining the power grid. The request will be filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission on Friday and will kick off a months-long period of review by regulators, who will ultimately decide whether or not to approve the policy change. Their final decision could impact the future of rooftop solar in Arizona.

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(Originally published 5/5/2013)

STUDENTS, COLLEGE DOING RETROFITS TO EVENTUALLY BRING IT TO LEED STANDARDS

The 2007 glass-and-steel addition to the UA College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture - promoted by the university as "a laboratory for sustainable practices" - is one of the biggest energy wasters on campus. In its first year of operation, it used four times the energy of the comparably sized brick building to which it is attached.

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AzSC Blog

The Tucson Solar Potluck: A Who’s Who of Solar in Arizona

On April 26, the Tucson Solar Potluck will be held in the desert north of Tucson.  It is the 32nd straight year for the gathering of solar enthusiasts, a streak that some believe qualifies it as the longest continuously held solar event in the U.S.

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