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Breaking News: ACC Staff Recommends Postponing Net Metering Discussion Until 2015

October 1 -- Yesterday the Arizona Corporation Commission Staff issued its highly anticipated recommendations in response to APS's proposed rule changes directed at residential solar customers.

Staff recommended that the Commission not approve either of APS's proposed Net Metering cost-shift solutions.

Net Metering is the mechanism that allows residential customers the right to offset energy purchases from the utility with self-generation on a one-to-one basis.

The Staff proposals, like those from APS, are only recommendations. Any changes to the existing rules must be voted on by the Arizona Corporation Commissioners. The Commissioners are scheduled to take up the issue at its Oct. 16 and 17 hearing.

Staff further recommended that should any changes be granted, existing rooftop solar customers should be grandfathered under the old rules, and that those rules should apply to the rooftop equipment and premises where the equipment is installed. In other words, the net metering rules should "run with the land," versus being a "right" that resides with a specific customer.

Although Staff recommended that no changes be made at this time, it did suggest that this issue be evaluated during APS's next rate case. They said it was their belief that any cost-shift issue created by Net Metering is fundamentally a matter of rate design and that the appropriate time for designing rates that equitably allocate the costs and benefits of Net Metering is during APS's next general rate case.

Staff further recommended that the Commission hold workshops with all stakeholders to help inform future Commission policy on the value that Distributed Generation (rooftop solar) installations bring to the grid. In addition, Staff recommended that within the workshops, the Commission investigate the currently non-monetized benefits of Distributed Generation with the goal of developing a methodology for assigning a values to the non-energy benefits of rooftop solar. 

Staff believes this recommended course of action is the most effective and appropriate method of dealing with the Net Metering cost-shift issue APS outlined in its July 12 filing. However, since it is not yet clear whether the Commission will decide to deal with this issue immediately, staff offered two alternative recommendations as bridge solutions in an effort to at least begin gradually addressing the Net Metering cost-shift issue until the matter can be more comprehensively resolved in a future general rate case.

The first interim proposal is a Lost Fixed Cost Recovery (LFCR) Flat Charge provision for all new APS solar rooftop customers, unless the customers choose the ETC-2 rate which relies on a demand-based charge to partially collect fixed costs. The LFCR is designed to recover a portion of costs arising from transmission and distribution, and other miscellaneous fixed costs. 

The recommendation would have new solar customers pay into the LFCR account at a flat rate, thereby reducing the impact on non-solar customers. The estimated impact of this flat charge would amount to an estimated monthly increase between $2 and $3 for new solar customers compared to the $50 to $100 a month charge under APS's proposal.

Staff's recommendation also included a second alternative in the event the Commissioners wanted to implement an immediate rule change before the next rate case, proposing a Distributed Generation (DG) Premium could be implemented on a gradual basis so as to minimize the immediate impact on future solar customers. The proposal said this could be done by initially setting the DG Premium at $2.75/kW. The DG Premium would be the cap for the monthly charge under this alternative. The Commission could lower or increase the DG Premium annually based on the effect it has on new solar installations. The Commission could also adopt an approach wherein the DG Premium is initially set at a lower amount than that recommended by Staff, and phased-in over a period of years.

For more information read the Staff's Recommendations here.

Jim Arwood
Communications Director
Arizona Solar Center

Questions:  

  • Have you read the two proposals (APS Link / Staff Link)? What is your opinion of each? 

Net Metering became an issue earlier this summer when APS proposed billing changes in an attempt to find a fair solution to the issue of what fixed costs solar customers pay versus the fixed costs non-solar customers pay.  

  • Please share your opinion as to how this issue should be addressed?
  • Should a decision be postponed until the next rate case in 2015 that will allow it to be considered with all other information on costs and benefits?
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Comments 2

Jim Stack on Friday, 04 October 2013 20:36

This is just a recommendation by the staff at this time. If the commissioners agree it just delays it for 2 years until the next rate case. We need to file a proposal that they pay us what they charge for Solar energy or they should charge less for solar energy if they really feel it is not worth as much. They charge 150% of the normal rate. Also solar is always made during the Peak Time of Day so it should be paid to us at Peak Time of Day rates and at 150%. Net is Net so pay up.

This is just a recommendation by the staff at this time. If the commissioners agree it just delays it for 2 years until the next rate case. We need to file a proposal that they pay us what they charge for Solar energy or they should charge less for solar energy if they really feel it is not worth as much. They charge 150% of the normal rate. Also solar is always made during the Peak Time of Day so it should be paid to us at Peak Time of Day rates and at 150%. Net is Net so pay up.
Henry Harding on Saturday, 05 October 2013 04:56

I have another property and would like to have solar on that as well. If the Corporation Commission goes with the staff recommendations could I have another property designated a solar property?

I have another property and would like to have solar on that as well. If the Corporation Commission goes with the staff recommendations could I have another property designated a solar property?
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