Arizona-based solar trade group, AriSEIA is seeking action by elected regulators of Arizona utility, Arizona Public Service (APS) to probe whether public funds were used in a bitter ongoing public campaign to repeal net metering rules and charge customers that have installed PV systems for the privilege.
The move follows quickly on the heels of Rhone Resch, chief executive of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), call to arms over US energy utility companies, anti-solar campaigns at the opening event of Solar Power International.
“Having already lied once about what funds they were using and with whom we hope the Arizona Corporation Commission will help us and the public get answers from APS about whether ratepayer funds are being used for their efforts to upend rooftop solar in Arizona. No one should take their word for it any longer. We hope the Commission can undertake an investigation of the company’s accounting practices and movements of money,” AriSEIA said in a statement.
The support group said that the move to have an investigation was needed to restore public confidence in the operations of the utility, which is regarded as a monopoly in the State.
“What’s most offensive of all is that depending on their accounting practices, APS may ask ratepayers to refund all of these costs to kill solar programs that are helping Arizonans save, and that are very popular according to a Republican pollster,” the statement went on to read.
AriSEIA said APS should also disclose all front groups it is using to hide its investment in anti-solar activities.
Local newspaper, Arizona Republic, investigated and exposed that two groups APS previously denied funding, went on to confirm the funding, which included They 60 Plus, a Washington, D.C. area political organization as well as Prosper which was said to have still denied funding from APS even while the utility had admitted to the funding.
Based on the Arizona Republic story APS may still be funding other organizations, hiding its use of funds, not disclosed to the public or the Republic, according to AriSEIA
AriSEIA called on APS, its consultants or related parties to disclose all additional groups it is currently funding, or intends to fund via a claimed network of organizations, including any pledges of support to state-wide candidates for the 2014 Arizona election cycle.
“APS has lied to the Corporation Commission and all of us. They are lying about solar. And it appears they still haven’t come clean on all of the nefarious activity they are involved in,” AriSEIA said in reiterating the need for clarification and help from those that regulate APS, its monopoly and guaranteed rate of return.
“Aside from the unsavory nature of all of this consider: they say too many people are getting too energy efficient via rooftop solar therefore we need to tax the sun and give that money not back to ratepayers they claim are being aggrieved, but to their pocket. But if they have all of this money for political laundering why do they still need to kill solar? They need to be more innovative not more underhanded,” the statement concluded.
The SEIA CEO had said in his SPI opening speech that 90% of the American public want to see more use of solar, after a recent survey had revealed, yet the industry faced heavyweight opposition to solar adoption.
“From the Heartland Institute – funded in large part by the Koch Brothers – to the ultra-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, groups all across the United States are lined up to oppose an expansion of solar energy, Resch said.
The US is not alone in utility opposition to PV adoption, battles have raged in many European countries for several years.