Welcome to the solar coaster
Members of Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative (SSVEC) have a pretty good feeling of what the “solar coaster” is. Since April of 2015, when SSVEC abruptly proposed elimination of net metering, they’ve felt the tug of war between utility interests, the solar industry, and other stakeholders. We’re now in the home stretch of this long, involved process. Over the next 2-3 months, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) will decide if they want there to be a minimally viable solar market within SSVEC’s service area, or if the current solar slowdown will come to a complete halt.
So how’d we get here? Since this post isn’t intended as a sleep aid, I won’t dig too deep. As noted above, SSVEC proposed gutting net metering over two years ago, and tried to make those changes effective about 30 days after submitting their proposal, before any review by the ACC occurred. This effectively stopped the solar market in their territory—in the next four months, we had only one customer choose to install solar with the possibility of the new rate structures hanging over their head.
Wondering what a residential demand charge is and if you should switch electric rates? Check out our new infographic! If you have comments or questions, please share them below.
Maybe you’re someone who checks every utility bill insert. Or maybe you just can’t get enough of the legal notices in the back of the newspaper. But if you aren’t “that guy” (or gal), you might not know that Tucson Electric Power is yet again proposing changes to rates around solar in the second phase of their rate case.
It’s been about six weeks since Net Zero Solar installed our first Enphase Energy AC Battery at our office/warehouse. Although this is a small test system, this exciting new product allows for a lot of flexibility in how energy is generated, stored, and consumed in your home. And although it’s not necessarily justified in pure economic terms at this point, the Enphase AC Battery can be a great addition to a solar electric system.
I arrived home after a busy workday, and sat down for dinner. My phone rang. It wasn’t a number I recognized, but it was in my home area code. When I answered, a telemarketer we’ll call “Sam” introduced himself.
Red Flag #1: Promises of “free” solar energy
Sam launched into his script: “Do you know that right now, you can receive up to $10,000 in incentives and grants in Arizona to make your home more energy efficient, for zero down?” The game was on. The object? To act ill-informed enough that he wouldn’t hang up on me, and would share more about his questionable business practices.
Lead generation and telemarketing companies often promise “free” solar electric systems that will “save hundreds each month.” Solar can be a great investment, but it isn’t free. Solar leases may save you a few bucks a month, but they usually contain surprises in the small print, and make poor assumptions about future energy rates. Solar loans are better, but still have a cost of capital embedded somewhere. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
(This post is reproduced from https://medium.com/@louiswoof/what-does-the-end-of-net-metering-in-arizona-mean-for-small-solar-installers-699be02141d9#.hhhj7s8es. Originally published January 19th, 2017)
It’s been almost a month since the Arizona Corporation Commission concluded their investigation into the value and cost of distributed generation by voting 4–1 to end net metering as we know it.
The simple policy of one-to-one credit of net metering will be replaced with a scheme that includes no banking of energy credits, and a steadily-dropping compensation for any energy that homeowners send back to the grid.
As you might imagine, at Net Zero Solar, we’ve been keenly discussing what this means for solar in the state, and particularly for small rooftop solar installers like us.