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If passed, the initiative will protect net metering, as well as protect solar customers from other fees that single them out, and from unnecessary delays in gaining utility approval to begin generating power. Source: Flickr - Michael Coghlan

If passed, the initiative will protect net metering, as well as protect solar customers from other fees that single them out, and from unnecessary delays in gaining utility approval to begin generating power. Source: Flickr - Michael Coghlan

Arizona voters could now weigh in or whether utilities pay full credit for extra solar energy.

An industry-backed super political action committee (PAC) voted yes to try and make a constitutional amendment at the November ballot that would protect current net metering policies, and also alleviate delays in gaining utility approval to begin producing clean energy. This vote comes at a welcome time, as the subsidy policy is currently in hot water in other states, notably California and Nevada.

The initiative is known as the Arizona Solar Energy Freedom Act and will succeed in amending state constitution to protect net metering if it secures 225,963 signatures to allow it to progress to the ballot. The committee campaigning for the initiative is led by former utility regulatory Kris Mayes; who was chairwoman of the Arizona Corporation Commission.

The implications of the initiative are significant for solar in Arizona as it would put a stop to the surplus fees that certain state utilities have been charging solar customers. The additional bill that solar consumers have been forced to foot came about as the price of solar modules declined and leasing arrangements increased in popularity. As a result, utilities devised the extra fees in a bid to get solar customers contribute the maintenance of the grid.  

If successful, the initiative would provide protection to solar consumers until 2022, and those who install solar by then will be allowed to remain under the existing rate plans. In addition, utilities will then be given 90 days to comply with the new regulations.

Regardless of the initiative, the state’s biggest utility, Arizona Public Service, is set to file a rate case in June that could make major change to solar rates; which could reduce its peak loads during times of highest demand and potentially reduce the amount of power to be delivered at any one time.  

Tags: usa, us, arizona, nevada, net metering, legislation, utility-scale solar

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