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New Arizona solar customers to get lower credits for excess power

FILE- This April 20, 2011, file photo, shows some of the 30,000 solar panels that make up the Public Service Company of New Mexico's new 2-megawatt photovoltaic array in Albuquerque, N.M. New Mexico's largest electric utility is asking state regulators for approval to join a wholesale trading market that allows participants in several western states to buy and sell energy to better balance supply and demand. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

TUCSON, Ariz. — New customers of an Arizona power company will get lower credits for excess solar-energy production.

New Tucson Electric Power solar customers will pay slightly higher monthly meter fees under a decision made Tuesday by the Arizona Corporation Commission, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

The commission’s ruling was in line with an earlier statewide policy decision to end net metering, or reimbursing rooftop solar customers for excess energy production at the full retail rate, and to adjust rates and charges to avoid shifting costs to non-solar customers.

The ruling will make solar uneconomical for many ratepayers and could cause the industry to collapse, according to solar-industry advocates.

The new rate plan does not affect Tucson Electric Power, or TEP, customers who have already installed or applied to interconnect solar systems before the Corporation Commission’s decision.

Tuesday’s ruling sets an initial Tucson Electric Power solar-energy export rate of 9.64 cents per kilowatt hour compared with net metering at a retail rate of 10.8 cents, locked in for each customer for 10 years from the time their systems go online.

The export rate will be reset annually based on a five-year rolling average of utility-scale solar costs, subject to a maximum 10 percent annual decrease.

For UNS Electric, TEP’s sister rural utility that serves Santa Cruz and Mohave counties, the new export rate will be 11.5 cents per kilowatt hour, initially higher than the rural utility’s average rate of 9.2 cents but subject to annual decreases.

The proposed export rate resulted from a formula prescribed by the commission, and no commission member moved to change the rate in the order, the commission’s staff said

New TEP and UNS solar customers also will have to pay a higher monthly meter fee of $2.23, while small-business solar customers will pay a monthly meter fee of 90 cents, up from $2.05 and 35 cents, respectively.

The fees were recommended by solar-industry representatives after TEP asked for a monthly residential meter fee of $3.50 and a small-business fee of $5.62.

KTAR News 92.3

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