Greg Bernosky, Arizona Public Services’ (APS) Director of State Regulation and Compliance, applauded changes in pricing models from Salt River Project (SRP) and Tucson’s UNS. Both groups have pushed for a change from net metering to demand charges in an effort to deal with subsidies for high-income solar users that raise costs for non-solar customers.
Bernosky stated in a recent article that this change is not simply beneficial to customers using traditional energy delivery methods, but to all customers. Meanwhile, solar interests like the Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) have been fighting back against these changes, claiming that the loss in customers and revenue will destroy the renewable energy source.
While with the current technology for solar, demand charges could create an issue for solar customers, Bernosky stated, “There are emerging technologies that allow keeping an eye on peak demand to get to those savings. We have seen a lot of customers save when they move to a demand rate.”
APS and others are concerned that the solar energy lobbyists are less interested in serving a wider customer base with clean energy and more interested in using the bait of renewable resources and environmental safety to push outdated technology at inflated installation prices.
SolarCity’s Will Craven argues that APS is looking to overcharge solar customers for the benefit of their own bottom line. But, according to a recent study by third-party firm, Navigant, the change in monthly charging will only serve to balance the bill for customers. While the change to demand charges would see a slight increase in the base rate for billing–from $10 to $15 per month in UNS’ case–they would also benefit customers who do not use energy in surges during peak hours. While solar users are typically the customers to do this, advances in technology, if implemented in rooftop installation, will help lower that bill considerably.
By advocating for better solar technology to be installed, Bernosky and his colleagues see a way to keep solar a viable energy source without harming the low-income customers who are unable to use it.