Solar Cease-Fire: Arizona Solar Advocates And Lawmakers Drop Dueling Ballot Initiatives

Arizona solar advocates and lawmakers have negotiated a compromise, leading them to drop competing solar ballot initiatives to amend the state’s constitution.

According UtilityDIVE and PV-Tech, this cease-fire allows both sides to reach a compromise which boosts solar while addressing the concerns of utilities.

A ceasefire between SolarCity and Arizona Public Service Company has the two sides agreeing to mediate over how solar customers are compensated for the electricity they produce.

Arizona saguaro shutterstock_255322462 (3)For background, solar advocates crafted The Energy Freedom Act, which would have amended the state constitution to prevent regulators from lowering current net metering rates until 2022. The initiative was filed by Yes on AZ Solar, a political action committee funded by SolarCity.

Responding to this initiative, state Sen. Debbie Lesko (R) drafted a ballot initiative that would have prevented state regulators from directing utilities to pay more than the wholesale rate for excess energy exported to the grid by distributed generation.

At the heart of the conflict was how to properly compensate electricity generated from residential solar without creating a cost burden for either side. Lesko’s referendum would have let voters decide if utilities should pay less than retail rates for electricity they receive from rooftop PV.

The agreement between the two sides has created an opportunity for settlement talks to preserve solar with buy-in from APS. In response, SolarCity withdrew its petition drive to put its own measure on the ballot, which would have barred utilities from charging solar customers based on their peak demand, rather than their overall usage.

The deal was announced less than an hour after the Arizona Senate took steps to send the electorate measures mandating separate rates for rooftop solar users and regulating solar leasing companies as utilities, in response to SolarCity’s initiative that sought to mandate utilities to pay net metering customers with rooftop solar panels to pay the full retail price for power they send back to the grid.Arizona’s head utility regulator expressed relief for this conflict being over for now.

“It would have been a pretty ugly dispute between the ballot measures over the summer,” Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) Chairman Doug Little said.

Former ACC Chairwoman and solar advocate Kris Mayes said both parties had hired mediators for the settlement talks in a 10-day window to come up with an agreement that both sides could present to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC).

APS is scheduled to file for a rate increase with the Commission in June which seeks to change the way solar customers pay for electricity.

Image via Shutterstock

1 thought on “Solar Cease-Fire: Arizona Solar Advocates And Lawmakers Drop Dueling Ballot Initiatives”

  1. To make a representative represent, you have to be able to threaten them with ballot initiatives. The 26 States that lack them truly have no representation for the 99%, as the recent Princeton study shows

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