Solar companies agree on deal with Arizona’s biggest utility

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By Nichola Groom

<span class="articleLocation”>Solar installation companies and Arizona’s
largest utility said on Wednesday that they had reached a
long-sought deal under which new rooftop solar systems would be
compensated at a lower rate for the energy they send to the

The settlement agreement between Arizona Public Service, a
division of Pinnacle West Capital Corp, and solar
installers including Sunrun Inc, must be approved by
state utility regulator the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Sunrun said the deal would enable it to continue to do
business in the state, but said it should not be a model for
other states.

“We still think that the settlement doesn’t fully value
solar,” Sunrun vice president of public policy Alex McDonough
said in an interview.

Under the deal, new solar systems will receive 12.9 cents
per kilowatt-hour for the excess electricity sent back to the
utility. Previously, they had received the full retail rate,
which in Arizona ranges from 13 cents to 14 cents, according to
Sunrun. The bill credit for excess energy, a policy known as net
metering, is key to making an investment in solar panels work

Last year, Nevada scrapped its net metering policy,
prompting solar installers including Sunrun and Tesla’s
SolarCity to abandon doing business in the state.

APS customers will also be able to choose between a rate
structure that varies depending on the time of day, or on a
traditional structure that includes a charge calculated based on
a household’s electricity demand. The solar industry had fought
a mandatory “demand charge” for customers.

Broadly speaking, incentives for rooftop solar have become
less generous as the cost of solar panels has declined, ushering
in dramatic industry growth.

Utilities have argued that as more customers go solar, it
leaves the burden of maintaining their systems on a smaller
number of customers. Solar advocates, however, have said that increased levels of rooftop solar allow utilities to avoid
making major new investments in their distribution systems that
would cause rates to rise.

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