It’s a closely watched fight with broad implications for the solar industry and the push by the Administration to go green.
An Arizona utility that generates and distributes electric power in one of the country’s sun-drenched areas has asked the state’s Corporation Commission for assistance in its fight with homeowners who have installed their own solar power panels, typically on house rooftops.
Tucson Electric Power Co. asked the agency, which sets utility rates, to let it double its basic monthly service charge for residential customers, from $10 to $20 per month, as well as assess new fees, penalties, and charges on rooftop solar customers. A study done by the utility says that customers with solar panels, on average, shift $67 a month in costs to non-solar customers because they pay less for grid upkeep.
The fight has the potential to go to the courts and set standards nationwide, with environmentalists like the Sierra Club arguing solar homeowners should be able to take a free ride on a utilities’ network, while the Arizona utility argues those without solar panels will have to pay for that crowd with rate increases.