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Natural Awakenings Tucson

New Statewide Solar Policy Could Reshape Arizona’s Energy Future

In October, 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 percent per year and reversing course on the grandfathering of legacy net metering customers. Oral testimony at the meeting was 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 ACC 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 percent 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.
While the ACC did not re-open the export rate proceeding, 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.
There are already over 200,000 solar users and over 8,000 solar jobs in Arizona; in fact, Arizona’s solar sector pumped $1.5 billion into our economy last year. However, this bizarre and sudden policy change could undermine that.

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