Phoenix-area homeowners rush to install solar before APS changes rates

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Steve Rust just had solar panels installed on his North Phoenix home.

The Valley grandfather had been thinking about going solar for quite a while but decided this was the time to do it, with APS planning to change its solar rates this summer.

"That had everything to do with it, because without the current plan that we are able to be grandfathered in on, it may not be worth going solar in the future," said Rust. "The rate changes are that great."

 A few months back, APS got the go-ahead from the Arizona Corporation Commission to end its net metering program for new solar customers.

Net metering is a way for solar customers to connect to the power grid and offset their energy costs.

The new APS rates without net metering could cost new solar owners up to 30 percent more.

Russ Gardner, with Arizona Energy Pros, said that without the added incentives and savings, fewer homeowners will go solar in the future.

"There's a lot of incentive to get every dollar that you spend now, and you can cover that with solar," said Gardner. "In the future, with the demand charge they're talking about implementing, it takes a lot of that away."

APS' position has been that solar customers have not been paying their fair share at the expense of other APS customers, and this is simply a way to level the playing field.

APS sent out this statement:

"It makes solar fairer because all Arizona customers will begin to share more appropriately in the cost of the electrical grid. It also enables solar to flourish and grow in Arizona, partly because it balances the economic benefits of grid-scale solar – which provides clean power to all of our customers at far less cost – with the desire of some customers to install solar on their rooftops. Existing rooftop solar customers will continue to operate under the current system and be protected, and future customers will still have an opportunity to realize costs and benefits."

"In Arizona and other states, it has been acknowledged that the net metering subsidy created a huge cost shift from solar customers to non-solar customers. For APS, by the end of 2016, it was determined that because of the net metering subsidy, non-solar customers would collectively pay $51 million per year more than they should for energy or $1 billion more than they otherwise should over the next 20 years. If it wasn’t fixed, that number would only grow. It’s clear that the solar market has transformed in a way that net metering in its original form is no longer necessary to support installations." 

Rust is just glad he beat the deadline, which was July 1, 2017, but will now be extended until the new APS rates are set later this summer.

"Our current savings is $25 a month on average, but we expect that savings to increase over time with other rate increases," said Rust.

More information about the net metering program and plans for new solar rates are available online.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

Click to learn more about Jason.

Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

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