UNS, a utility company in Tucson, held a public hearing on March 1 to discuss a new approach to pricing that will balance out pricing between solar and non-solar customers. Customers and others on both sides of UNS’ proposal watched the proceedings.
Under the current pricing method, solar customers can sell back unused energy at a retail price. For the higher-income customers with the ability to install solar, this serves to distance them further from lower-income customers unable to offset their costs.
Tim Hogan, a representative for low-income utility customers, claims that, because of the loss of revenue from the subsidies UNS must pay out to solar customers, low-income customers must absorb an 8 percent increase in their monthly bill.
Under the proposed plan of demand charges, UNS would replace net metering, a pricing structure Hogan calls antiquated, with a way of pricing that equalizes costs between solar and non-solar customers. While their will be an increase in the monthly bill of about 6 percent, by balancing the payments, future increases in price would be much less of a strain on customers as they would be in the current plan.
The outcome of the UNS proposal is expected to affect change across Arizona in other utility companies, including Arizona Public Services which serves a large customer base throughout the state.