California solar surplus creates windfall for Arizona

June 02, 2016

Have you ever wondered what happens to energy when no one is using it? Public radio station KJZZ recently discussed California’s rising surplus of solar energy and how surrounding states, like Arizona, are being paid to take the extra power.

The article explains that solar panels in California and the Southwest are churning out power midday while customer demand is low. Because of California’s extensive renewable resources, the state has a surplus of energy that pushes the market price down to where APS and other utilities are paid to take the excess.

“This is the warning utilities are sounding about the advent of solar: It’s an intermittent resource and does not always match demand,” KJZZ says.

Brad Albert, APS director of resource management, says that better integrating renewables is important and “at stake is the reliability of the grid.”

APS has initiated several proposals to address these issues by encouraging customers to use energy when it’s plentiful, such as midday. In our recently filed rate review, we are seeking to change residential time-of-use hours from 12-7 p.m. to 3-8 p.m., which would result in lower-priced electricity when solar panels are producing the most.

APS has also launched the Solar Innovation Study in an effort to integrate this advanced technology and help customers save energy and money.