In a joint op-ed piece for Havasu News, Corporation Commission candidates Bill Mundell and Tom Chabin discussed the recent revisions to UniSource’s energy rates proposal, claiming that the new ideas are as offensive to them as the old ones. Both candidates are running as so-called “Clean Elections” candidates to disrupt what they think is a problematic system.
But where Mundell and Chabin rail against APS and its “dark money” funding of pro-demand rate interests, they seem perfectly happy to collect their checks from solar giants who want to keep net metering in place. While this might seem like a case of two bad sides of an issue, the truth about the Mundell and Chabin ticket comes out in answers to the rhetorical questions they pose in their article:
The question remains: why is UniSource now targeting only solar customers? Does this truly benefit their customers or is this an attack on distributed generation power sources which the big power companies can’t control (and more importantly, don’t make money from)? Why can’t Unisource make their solar customers a partner and not their enemy?
In answer to the first question: UniSource is targeting solar rates because the current net metering model requires retail-priced subsidies to be paid out to customers and corporations who use solar, leading to rate hikes that negatively affect non-solar users. Will this then benefit their customers? Absolutely. SRP has already proven that solar customers will save money under demand rates while non-solar users will maintain a fixed rate of pay rather than one that raises over time with the subsidies.
The final question raises another, more interesting question: Why do Mundell and Chabin feel the need to force conflict between solar customers and utility companies? In their new proposal, UniSource provides a varieties of rate plans that work for solar and non-solar customers to better serve them. Small monthly raises in fees will support new and better solar technology as well as improvements in other resources. UniSource seems intent on serving its customers across the board.
The war then seems to be against solar corporations–with the political support of their “Clean Elections” candidates–and the utility companies. The issue isn’t that APS and UniSource are ripping off customers, it’s that their proposed changes to better reflect a growing need for advanced technology negatively affect the bottom line of solar corporations who hope to continue profiting from subsidies without doing the work to care for their customers.
Chabin and Mundell thought they were asking some tough questions in their piece. The most important question is, are they willing to accept the answers?