Arizona regulators adopt higher solar rates - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Arizona regulators adopt higher solar rates

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PHOENIX -

One major power company wants to charge some solar users more for the use of solar power.

This meeting has been going on for two days.  Essentially Arizona Public Service wants to add a surcharge to the bills of customers who have solar panels installed at home, but the solar industry in Arizona is fighting very hard against APS.

The Corporation Commission spent the entire day asking questions of APS and the representatives from the solar industry.

APS claims people who don't have solar are unfairly bearing the cost of maintaining the power grid so that solar customers can have lower bills.  So the company wants to charge solar customers an extra fee to help offset the costs of maintaining the power grid.

Solar companies say this is APS' way of making solar less appealing to potential customers and they appeared to be fighting very hard against any kind of fee, but  changed course and seemed open to a settlement.

The Corporation Commission is now looking at approving a 70 cent per kilowatt surcharge for solar customers.

This has been a very heated process.

"When I think about a ratepayer, the first person I think about is an 80-year-old woman who I know well.. who carries a space heather from room to room in order to not turn her heat up too much in her house," said Corporation Commissioner Brenda Burns.  "I want to make decisions very, very carefully and make sure that while one person, thankfully can put solar on their roof and that is terrific, but when they make that choice, I don't want it to create a problem for this person in my mind who is simply trying to stay warm."

A lawyer representing solar panel installers stated, "It is wildly unfair to attach a charge to someone who decides to buy less power from APS only because they have solar.  there rational distinction between the two."

If the 70 cent per kilowatt charge is approved by the commission, it would translate into a surcharge of about $5 to $10 per month for APS customers with solar panels on their rooftops.

On Thursday night, the vote passed by a 3-2 vote. Customers will now see a .70 cent increase per kilowatt on their bill. This will start for those customers who install solar panels starting Jan. 1st. Those with existing panels will be grandfathered in.

Follow this story: Utility, solar company battle over rooftop panels

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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