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PHOENIX, AZ, August 19, 2015 - By a 3-2 vote, the Arizona Corporation Commission overturned the recommendations of an administrative law judge and its own staff and decided to initiate a hearing to consider an APS request to increase fees on new residential customers who utilize rooftop solar to produce some of their own energy. With this vote the Commission added another costly hearing though other utilities that had filed similar requests are including them in rate cases.
"We're clearly disappointed in yesterday's vote," said Mark Holohan, President of the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association. "The proper way to look at rooftop solar’s value is for the Commission to lead and initiate a fair and objective study rather than relying on studies controlled by utilities. Instead the Commission’s decision will just be a replay of the rancor of 2013’s solar fight. We remain hopeful that the Commission will ultimately find that solar’s benefits for all ratepayers make such fees unwarranted.”
AriSEIA is especially concerned because the length of time for this contentious process results in it continuing into the time that APS files its next rate case in June of 2016. “The solar industry and customers considering solar are guaranteed to face two years of uncertainty about the future as we fight this increase and then again fight the additional fees and charges that will undoubtedly be proposed in the rate case. We are disappointed that the Commission will not provide ratepayers with the same level of regulatory certainty that the Commission provides utilities,” said Holohan.
Commissioners stated that they would not allow utilities’ tactics where they had announced that they would retroactively impose fees on customers after a specified date earlier than the Commission’s decisions.
AriSEIA believes the proper course of action would have been to follow the judge’s Recommended Opinion and Order (ROO) and examine this issue where all other similar issues are always examined, in a rate case.