cc licensed flickr photo shared by Swiss Bones

Arizona is a state bombarded by a free source of untapped energy. Our electric companies have been offering incentives in the forms of rebates and tax credits. it’s not out of the goodness of their heart or their long term vision on the future of energy- it was mandated by law, and funded by extra fees everyone has been paying each month.

For more than a year I have been putting money away towards getting a solar electric system for my house in Strawberry. I have an ideal spot, a south facing roof with no trees obstructing it. Last month, I spec-ed out a system with a firm from Flagstaff, and started the paperwork. I knew the timing was important as the news was that the programs were running out of money, they had already dropped the rebate rate in March.

I was dismayed when I got home from my trip to get this letter from APS:

On April 13, 2010, the Arizona Corporate Commission approved a change in APS’s residential Renewable Energy incentive levels. The Commission approved a reduction for grid-tied solar electric (PV) from $3.00 per watt to $2.15 per watt, and a further reduction to $1.95 once APS had received reservations for an additional 3 megawatts of installed capacity….

The Commission has further required APS to divide the remaining $11.1 million in incentive funding into two funding cycles. The first funding cycle is from March 31 to July 1, 2010, and has an available budget of $5.9 million. The second funding cycle runs from July 2 to October 1, 2010 with an available budget of $5.2 million.

Your APS Residential Application was received on 4/27/201. This letter is to serve as notification that at the time of your submission, the first funding cycle’s available funds have been exhausted and your application has not been reserved.

In an Arizona Republic story, “officials” conjure up a fairy tale that with less rebates avaiable to residents, that the suppliers will somehow magically cut their costs.

The changes, if approved by regulators, will add to the out-of-pocket expenses for customers installing solar panels. But officials said that demand is soaring and that reducing the subsidies will put pressure on solar companies to cut expenses and drive down the cost of solar installations.

“This is a great problem to have because it means a strong solar industry has emerged in this state and that Arizonans are showing their demand for solar,” said Kris Mayes, chairwoman of the Arizona Corporation Commission, the state utility regulator that requires utilities to supply increasing amounts of energy from renewable sources.

That logic may have worked before the economy nose-dived, but hardly seems a natural assumption now. If anything, in these times, Arizona needs to do things to encourage more spending and hiring of local companies to do work; instead, they make a move that is bound to generate less jobs for the solar industry, less expansion of alternative energy.

I had little luck finding anything like a record of this vote, nes of this vote on the archaic Arizona Corporate Commission web site (vinatge 1996 web design). In a fit of despair, I sent an email to the five corporate commissioners:

To: newman-web@azcc.gov, pierce-web@azcc.gov, mayes-web@azcc.gov, kennedy-web@azcc.gov, stump-web@azcc.gov
From: me
Subject: Reduction of APS Solar Rebate Program

To Arizona Corporate Commissioners,

I saved for more than a year to have enough money to invest in a solar electric system for my home in Strawberry. I am greatly disappointed that you voted to allow APS to cut back their rebate program, first cutting the amounts offered, and now limiting the program. I just got a letter saying my April 27 application was rejected.

As a state we are wasting the huge natural resource that shines on us 300 days a year. It is short sighted to discontinue the incentives for solar energy.If the demand is high for solar energy, then it should be encouraged. I attended a solar energy seminar last month in Payson that was attended by at least 40 other local citizens. At this session we learned that solar panels are more effective in the Rim country because they do not lose as much energy to heat dissipation compared to Phoenix. I would like to know if the distribution of rebates has been equitable to the rural towns.

I do not follow Commissioner Mayes assertion that the solar suppliers will drop their material costs; in this economic down turn, the State ought to do everything possible to generate more business transactions, not less.

As a result of losing the rebate, I likely will not be able to hire a local Flagstaff company to do the work That hurts the economy.

Please do not cut back this program- expand it. Maybe Arizona can do something truly progressive with energy?

How much more Arizona stupid decision making can I take?

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. Hi Alan, I would be gutted too! This is so short sighted. Best of luck in your campaign to restore (expand) the program in your state.
    Vonnie in southoz (Australia)

  2. Go get ’em CogDog. As you say, this is a critical asset going wasting. I hope they are not building more coal and oil fired generation at the same time.

    …G

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