Just when you thought Arizona rooftop solar was (relatively) safe, Arizona Public Service strikes again!
There were already some concerns that the number of solar jobs in the state have gone down. And Arizona solar seemed to be slowing down after the approximately $5 a month fee recently imposed on solar customers. While a lot less than the $50-$100 the utility had asked for, it seems to be having an adverse effect. But it could be all too easy to get complacent for a while after the still-significant victory.
To keep us all alert, T.U.S.K. (Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed) has been monitoring the solar situation in Arizona. Today, T.U.S.K published this on CleanTechnica:
(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) After failing to convince the Arizona Corporation Commission to impose a $50 a month surcharge on rooftop solar customers, the empire is trying to strike back.
Arizona Public Service is working to convince Arizona lawmakers to make permanent a new property tax on solar customers who lease their systems. Approximately 80% of homeowners in Arizona lease their solar systems. If allowed, this tax would make it more difficult for home and business owners to save money by installing solar and it would undermine the state’s solar industry which is currently the only competition that the state’s energy monopolies have. Despite spending millions of dollars and funneling money through shady front groups to promote their proposed $50-$100 per month solar surcharge, APS’ efforts exploded like the Death Star. But that’s not stopping them from trying again. A lobbyist with close ties to APS is pushing the passage of HB2595 which codifies a bizarre change in Arizona taxation laws that imposes a property tax only on customers who lease their solar systems.
And while APS continues to deny ties to attempts to make the tax permanent, it should be noted that last year APS denied claims that it was involved in third-party anti-solar campaigns. Those claims turned out not to be true by APS’ own admission. So can we really trust the claims that they’re making now about not trying to undermine the solar industry yet again?
APS’ anti solar efforts have already had a negative impact on the Arizona economy. The number of people employed in the solar energy industry in Arizona fell by more than 1,200 in 2013 according to a report issued by The Solar Foundation. The Foundation says APS’ anti-solar efforts likely played a role in that job loss.
T.U.S.K. (Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed) was formed to stand up for energy choice and solar savings. TUSK Co-Chairman Barry Goldwater Jr. stated, “What part of ‘Don’t tax the sun’ does APS not understand? It’s obvious our work as far from over as this utility monopoly looks for new ways tax a competitor out of the market.”
To learn more about T.U.S.K. visit www.dontkillsolar.com.
T.U.S.K. believes that rooftop solar is similar to a charter school—it provides a competitive alternative to the monopoly. Monopoly utilities aren’t known for reducing costs or for driving business innovation, but the Arizona solar industry is. Solar companies have a track record of aggressive cost reduction in Arizona. The more people use rooftop solar, the less power they need to buy from the utilities. Energy independence for Arizonans means smaller profits for the utilities, so APS is doing everything it can to stop the spread of independent solar.