kovalb
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Want Pro-Solar Organizing Advice - Arizona

Tue Mar 03, 2015 12:34 pm

Background:
The electric utilities in Arizona have been waging an anti solar war recently. First APS asked for a $50/mo tax added to rooftop solar customers electric bills. The Arizona Corporation Commission granted them $5. Now, about a week ago, SRP passed an onerous demand tax on top of the energy use fee. They are a quasi-government entity that does not need approval. It means that customers get charged for energy and power. The power part confuses a lot of people; it will add between $50 and $150/mo to the bill for most, but actually the sky is the limit. Both APS and SRP rates were grandfathered for existing solar customers. I am a SRP customer and my system is grandfathered for 20yrs from install, so another 15 1/2 yrs for me. This may have been meant to divide and conquer but many of us who are current solar homeowners are outraged and trying to fight back in order to keep rooftop solar growing in our state. This fight will be coming to where you live as well, if it hasn't already.

Purpose:
I am writing to get advice for the best ways to organize and rally the distributed solar power cause. I joined with a group of others and we are calling ourselves the "Arizona Sunshine Alliance". They have big plans, but few people and no money. We know we are going against big corporations, deep pockets, and dark money.

Current Status:
Our group wants to tackle these items first.
1. Change SRP's archaic 1903 charter, that only permits customers who own the original land to vote by acre, to one customer one vote.
2. Divest the electric part from the water part of SRP. Currently the electric subsidizes the water.
3. Promote our own candidates for the SRP board.

Questions:
1. Is the best way to form a non-profit? This is the current plan.
2. Any advice for fund raising?
3. Know any organizations that we might be able to contact and work with? We already know some.
4. Any words of wisdom?

Unless we act quickly and strongly we may be lamenting "Who Killed Rooftop Solar?".
Had six Nissan LEAFs in five years. Hope to get another.
Retired Nissan Employee (NTCNA-AZ). Opinions expressed here are my own.

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drees
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Re: Want Pro-Solar Organizing Advice - Arizona

Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:14 pm

Is there a document that details the new SRP solar plan?
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RegGuheert
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Re: Want Pro-Solar Organizing Advice - Arizona

Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:46 am

In addition to the details of plan which you are fighting against, I think we need some background on the current status of what is happening in AZ. For instance:

- How much PV solar is currently installed?
- How quickly is PV solar growing?
- How much of AZ's energy is currently produced by rooftop PV?
- What is the maximum ratio of peak PV power to total consumption in AZ?
- How is this ratio expected to grow with the current arrangements?
- How does PV solar impact SRP's bottom line? (IOW, why are they making this push now?)

For reference, AZ currently has 91 incentives in place to promote rooftop PV. Clearly Arizona is one of the most ideal places for rooftop solar due to solar resources, so with all of these incentives in place, the growth should be very robust. SRP must be seeing something coming and you will need to know exactly what that is to be able to fight this battle.

FWIW, my one experience with the Virginia Corporation Commission was not a good one. My conclusion at the end of the day was that these bureaucrats work with the corporations every day, so they treat them nice, but they only ever had to deal with me once, so they ended up sounding to me a LOT like members the corporations themselves. I hope you have better luck with the Arizona version of that bureaucracy.

You will need to get some lawyers in your organization and will need to fight on multiple legal fronts, including both in the courts and in the state legislature. Someone will need to be tracking coming legislative initiatives and also someone will need to be writing legislation to make a clear situation for how to move forward.

Finally, I think you need to have a back-up plan to fight SRP on their terms in case you do not win or it takes time to undo what they are doing. For instance, Enphase is preparing to make money on exactly this coming backlash from the utilities by marketing products to allow you to minimize your cost within the modified rate structures, you may need to investigate this type of option or look into going completely off-grid to determine if you can take your business away from the utilities for less (or equal) money as it would cost to stay with them. That may be what they want in the short term, but eventually this leads to a very bad place for the utilities.

BTW, there are two transitions going on here: One is the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and the other is the transition from centralized control of electricity generation and supply to distributed generation and supply. While the utilities are not big proponents of the first transition, their entire existence depends upon maintaining centralized control of electricity. Clearly they will fight that second battle to the death.
RegGuheert
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kovalb
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Re: Want Pro-Solar Organizing Advice - Arizona

Sat Mar 07, 2015 8:01 am

There are numerous documents regarding the new rate plan (E-27) that SRP is forcing new distributed solar customers into. Here is the most complete one I know of, however there have been amendments since it was published, some made during the board meeting that approved it.

http://www.srpnet.com/prices/priceprocess/pdfx/BlueBookAppA.pdf
E-27 starts on Page 31

The rates are TOU (time of use) but add huge demand charges. Here is an idea of those additional charges. Our power demand and bills in Phoenix peak sharply in the summer due to A/C use. The per kWh energy use charges do decrease but not nearly enough to offset the new demand charges.

Summer Peak first 3kW next 7kW all add'l kW
$8.10 $15.05 $28.93 /mo

That would be about $190/mo additional if you used 9kW during any single 30min period during the billing month. I believe the average kW power demand is about 8.5kW

https://www.facebook.com/groups/citizensagainstsrpsolarpriceplan/429154753905445/?notif_t=group_activity
The Arizona Sunshine Alliance has begun discussing on-line here.

I believe about 15,000 SRP customers have PV out of almost 900,000 residential customers total. Totally, including what SRP generates itself, I believe PV is currently less than 5% of capacity, and until recently was growing nicely, but I do not have the numbers. Currently SRP has considerable overcapacity to produce during the times solar production falls off. This should not be an issue until well into the next decade when it may have been able to reach 20% if it was not killed, at which time demand would need to be considered. We do not know for a fact why SRP made this 180 degree turn on their PV policy. We do know that out of state advisers and dark money have been influencing elections and decisions very recently.

Unless we can reverse this in AZ I expect utilities nationwide will attempt to do the same. SolarCity has filed a lawsuit against SRP. https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/solarcity-files-lawsuit-against-salt-river-project-for-antitrust-violations
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Randy
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Re: Want Pro-Solar Organizing Advice - Arizona

Sat Mar 07, 2015 8:54 am

It isn't really clear in that document on page 30 where they have pricing for the first 3 kW, the next 7 kW, and then "All Add'l kW". They don't say if it is per kW above 7, or if the higher price covers any load above 7 kW. Anyone have any clarifying information?

kovalb
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Re: Want Pro-Solar Organizing Advice - Arizona

Sat Mar 07, 2015 7:52 pm

Randy wrote:It isn't really clear in that document on page 30 where they have pricing for the first 3 kW, the next 7 kW, and then "All Add'l kW". They don't say if it is per kW above 7, or if the higher price covers any load above 7 kW. Anyone have any clarifying information?

It is price per kW above 7.
Had six Nissan LEAFs in five years. Hope to get another.
Retired Nissan Employee (NTCNA-AZ). Opinions expressed here are my own.

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