FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Arizona Corporation Commission Decision Creates Economic Uncertainty for Rooftop Solar
Solar advocates criticize ACC's decision.
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Phoenix, Arizona — Yesterday, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) held a meeting to discuss the value of solar. The agenda included a vote on reopening the Value of Solar proceeding, whether to change the 10-year buyback rate lock-in period for solar customers and the rule limiting the reduction in buyback rates to no more than 10% per year, and reversing course on the grandfathering of legacy net metering customers. Thousands of people wrote to the Commission, and dozens provided oral testimony during the meeting, overwhelmingly opposed to the ACC reopening the value of solar proceeding or increasing the step-down rate. Those in opposition included solar homeowners, solar workers, clean energy advocates, ratepayer advocates, and every regulated utility in the state.
The Commission decided not to re-open the Value of Solar case, which dictates how solar owners who installed in 2017 or later are credited for the surplus energy they contribute to the grid. However, the Commission did vote to open a new docket to re-evaluate the 10% step-down limitation and lock-in period for future solar customers.
The original 2017 Value of Solar decision, reached after a lengthy evidentiary hearing and extensive deliberation and compromise, was designed to ensure predictable compensation for solar owners while providing stability to Arizona's rooftop solar market. Current solar customers will maintain their rates.
Autumn Johnson, Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA), said, "We are very disappointed in the decision to open a new proceeding on the value of solar. Even opening the docket plunges the market into uncertainty. The new hearing to design a rate case for future customers could have a lasting and detrimental impact on both the solar industry and consumers. Solar is not just a source of clean energy; it's a driver of economic growth, job creation, and energy independence. It's essential to remember that the solar industry has been a significant contributor to Arizona's economy, providing thousands of jobs and attracting investments that benefit local communities."
While the ACC did not re-open the export rate proceeding today, the potential changes could still substantially reduce compensation for solar energy and erode critical protections for homeowners investing in solar power. The step-down limit and lock-in period give homeowners predictability about the compensation they will receive for energy exported to the grid, which is critical when deciding to invest in solar. Changing these rules would directly impact the Arizona solar industry during a period of heavy federal investment in clean energy.
“We're deeply concerned that any changes to how solar owners are credited for their extra power will jeopardize the future of rooftop solar in Arizona. Without the assurance of stable and predictable savings, many Arizonans will lack the confidence to go solar. Low-income and historically disadvantaged communities, especially, will be unable to access solar savings. The decline in rooftop solar growth would harm all ratepayers since rooftop solar creates a more affordable, efficient, and reliable power grid for everyone. It's crucial that we continue to work together to ensure a fair and equitable energy future with rooftop solar at the cornerstone,” said Adrian Keller of Solar United Neighbors.
Prior to the meeting, stakeholders hosted a webinar and press conference to shed light on the need to maintain the established rates solar customers are paid by their utility for the extra power they provide to the grid. Experts from Vote Solar, AriSEIA, and Solar United Neighbors provided comments during the ACC meeting.
"It's disheartening to witness some Commissioners actively seeking to undermine the value of distributed generation and disrupt the stability that consumers have come to rely on. We firmly believe in the value of distributed generation, like rooftop solar, as a crucial component of a clean and resilient energy future. We'll remain steadfast in our commitment to advocate for policies that prioritize the interests of consumers, the growth of renewable energy, and the protection of energy independence. We are proud of the thousands of people who sent in comments and the dozens who testified against these harmful decisions. We will work together in the new hearing to ensure equitable access to clean energy solutions.” said Kate Bowman, Vote Solar.
Commissioners Nick Myers, Jim O'Connor, and Kevin Thompson all voted in favor of the new proceeding. Commissioners Lea Márquez Peterson and Anna Tovar voted against reassessing the stepdown and lock-in rates. The dates for the new hearing are forthcoming, with the six-month proceeding to take place next year.
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Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA) is a 501(c)(6) trade organization and the state affiliate of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). AriSEIA works to develop and support policies that create opportunities to advance Arizona’s economy through solar energy, storage, and electrification. We advocate for sustainable job creation and encourage utilization of Arizona’s greatest natural resource, the sun.
Solar United Neighbors is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that works in Arizona and nationwide to represent the needs and interests of solar owners and supporters. Solar co-ops are part of the organization’s mission to create a new energy system with rooftop solar at the cornerstone. Solar United Neighbors holds events and education programs to help people become informed solar consumers, maximize the value of their solar investment, and advocate for fair solar policies.
Vote Solar is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Vote Solar advocates for state policies and programs needed to repower our electric grid with clean energy. Vote Solar works to remove regulatory barriers and implement key policies needed to bring solar to scale. Vote Solar works to realize a 100% clean energy future through a solutions-driven, people-first approach.
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