It’s Time to Fix Net Metering’s Hidden Subsidies

October 25, 2013

That was then
 
In solar’s early days, Arizona was eager to encourage investment in clean energy. Working with APS and other early solar leaders, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) created ongoing rate subsidies in the form of net metering to make rooftop solar more affordable.
 
The number of customers with rooftop solar was small. The cost of the subsidy was spread among nearly a million customers. It was hardly noticeable.
 
This is now
 
Times have changed. Technology has improved. The cost of solar panels has declined. New leasing models have been created in which incentives primarily benefit the leasing company, not the homeowner. The rate of rooftop solar installations has increased dramatically.
 
And yet the ongoing subsidy remains unchanged and largely unknown. Until earlier this year, most
Arizonans had never heard the phrase “net metering.”
 
The cost of that subsidy is now significant. It is growing fast, and it falls disproportionately on customers who do not have solar. That’s not fair.
 
A better way
 
It’s time to shine some sunlight on hidden solar subsidies. As long as they are needed, they should be transparent to the public. Let them be examined frequently and debated, just like other electricity rates.
 
Replacing the existing hidden subsidies with transparent, upfront incentives would restore fairness while protecting Arizona’s important solar industry.
 
And, as the cost of solar continues to decrease, the ACC can adjust the incentive, ensuring that Arizona electricity customers share in the savings.
 
Let’s continue Arizona’s solar leadership and fix net metering now.