Arizona Net Metering Fight: 2013-2014

In late 2013, Arizona Public Service (APS) proposed charging customers who install rooftop solar panels an additional $50-100 on their monthly bills as an additional fee for connecting to the grid. APS sought to charge ratepayers who generate solar power despite the fact that multiple studies show that the value of distributed solar energy to the grid exceeds what homeowners are reimbursed for power they are producing.

APS led the first assault of a national campaign to weaken net metering policies, part of the utility trade association Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI) long-term strategy to address business competition from distributed energy generation like solar. APS is an investor-owned utility that serves over one million customers and generates the majority of its electricity from coal, nuclear, gas, and oil.

Arizona Renewable Energy Standard Fight: 2013

In early 2013, Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) member Gary Pierce sought to weaken the state’s clean energy law by reducing the “Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST).” But, Pierce withdrew his proposal in March after an outcry from solar industry advocates that weakening the REST would result in job losses in the state.

Pierce’s withdrawal of the REST-weakening proposal came only after the ACC eliminated incentives for commercial solar development, a move that one business leader said “effectively kills the commercial solar marketing in Arizona.”

Four (out of five) of the ACC members have been active members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Pierce attended at least one ALEC meeting while serving on the ACC in 2010 and was tagged in a Facebook photo with ALEC legislators from Arizona.  An article from Bloomberg revealed that current ACC Chairman Bob Stump is a former member of ALEC’s task force on health care public policy, which is also detailed in an ALEC document and his legislative biography. Commissioner Brenda Burns served on ALEC’s board for nine years, becoming the group’s national Chairwoman in 1999, according to her commission biography. Commissioner Bob Burns is a former ALEC state chairman for Arizona.

The Beacon Hill Institute (BHI) produced a report in April 2013 using the same flawed methodology to claim that the REST would have a severe, negative economic impact on the state of Arizona. The Koch-funded Goldwater Institute, part of the State Policy Network, also attacked the clean energy law and cited the flawed BHI report as reason for eliminating the REST.