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Solar eclipse: Company files lawsuit claiming Salt River Project ‘monopoly’

LISTEN: Solar eclipse: Company files lawsuit claiming Salt River Project 'monopoly'

PHOENIX — A Valley solar company has filed a federal lawsuit against Arizona utility company Salt River Project for what they call anti-competitive behavior.

In the suit, SolarCity alleged SRP approved a new pricing plan last week designed to punish customers who go solar.

“So a customer who’s looking at the choice, ‘Do I want to go solar, do I want to generate my own electricity, and buy less from SRP,’ … that’s no longer an economically rational decision for them to make,” Fred Norton, assistant general counsel for SolarCity, said.

SRP customers who generate their own power have to pay additional charges that add up to hundreds of dollars annually.

“SRP is a monopolist because they have complete control over the transmission and distribution grid for the customers in their territory and because they sell over 95 percent of the electricity that the customers in that territory consume,” Norton said.

SRP argued the charges help maintain the grid used by both traditional and solar customers.

“The new E-27 price plan ensures that the cost shift to our 985,000 non-solar customers will not grow and that is simply fair for all involved,” Mark Bonsall, SRP’s CEO and general manager, said in a release.

SRP said it plans to “aggressively defend” itself against SolarCity’s “meritless” lawsuit.

According to Norton, SRP’s new program lead to applications for rooftop solar fell by 96 percent.