What Others Are Saying ...

Opponents of reform continue to deny that the current net metering structure is a problem. However, many influential voices have agreed that net metering leads to an unfair cost-shift that needs to be resolved for customers.

“The Corporation Commission lets APS recover some of its fixed costs, and gives customers a choice in how they pay: a fixed amount or a percentage of their bill. The percentage is usually cheaper; for solar users, it’s considerably less. But as they pay less and less, non-solar users shoulder more and more of the burden. That’s not right.”

-Arizona Republic Editorial Board

“APS has clearly shown that under this arrangement, ‘net-metering’ customers don’t pay their fair share of the cost of building and maintaining the grid infrastructure.”
-Tom Patterson
Former Arizona State Senator, East Valley Tribune

“The net-metered customer does not share equally in the overhead costs associated with the grid or other services provided by the utility, producing a very substantial ‘cross-subsidy’ funded by all other utility customers who must pay proportionately more in rates.”
-James A. Hughes
CEO of First Solar Inc., The Arizona Republic

“In light of the rapid growth in net-metered *DG, it is critical that these customers pay their fair share of the cost of grid services provided to them – and sooner rather than later. Updating net metering policies to put an end to the cost shifting that is occurring today should be done now.”
-Value of the Grid to *DG Customers
Innovation Electricity Efficiency, an Institute of The Edison Foundation

“The rooftop solar industry would have us believe the fight over net metering is about freedom of choice for customers. The real dispute is not about freedom of choice at all— it’s about economics and fairness. It is simply easier for them to paint APS as a villain than defend or change their own unsustainable business model, which is based on subsidies and cost transfers.”
-Gary Yaquinto
President of the Arizona Investment Council, Arizona Capitol Times

“The truth is that a *DG customer continues to rely upon grid services 24 x 7. It is critically important for *DG customers to pay their fair share of the cost of grid services. Otherwise these costs are pushed onto non-*DG customers and that is fundamentally unfair.”
-Lisa Wood
IEE’s Executive Director and Vice President of The Edison Foundation

“With increasing levels of *DG penetration, the potential of shifting costs from customers with *DG systems to those customers without such systems becomes apparent. As more customers offset a portion of their monthly bills by using energy produced by their *DG systems, they purchase less energy from the utility. Because residential rates are typically designed to recover much of the utility’s fixed costs through volumetric energy rates, *DG customers effectively pay less of these fixed costs.”
-Arizona Corporation Commission
Staff’s recommendation on net metering reform in Arizona

“The problem exacerbates with each new system that goes on a roof... Utilities will need to get reimbursed for their grid costs by a shrinking number of consumers.”
-Mark Bachman
Analyst at Avian Securities, Bloomberg News

“The costs associated with all *NEM generation are forecast to be approximately $1.1 billion per year in 2020 (in $2012).”
-California Net Energy Metering Draft Cost-Effectiveness Evaluation
The Energy Division of the California Public Utilities Commission

 “Rooftop solar customers need to pay for the grid they rely on throughout the day.”
-Residential Utility Consumer Office 
Response to ACC Staff Recommendation

“Under the current APS rate structure, net metering creates a cost shift from ratepayers that have installed rooftop solar to those who do not. This is a simple fact and there is no point in arguing otherwise. The size of the problem appears to be relatively small today. However the problem is growing in proportion to the amount of rooftop solar that is installed (which is accelerating).”
-Southwestern Power Group
Letter to the ACC, November 4
 
“As customers who adopt distributed generation use less energy, they no longer pay the share of fixed costs that are associated with the infrastructure that they continue to use. This causes a shift of costs that are initially borne by the utility and then are eventually borne by other rate payers.”
-Arizona Competitive Power Alliance
ACC filing, November 4
 
“Every net-metered customer is connected to the grid maintained and operated by the utilities. Net-metered DG users depend on the grid every bit as much as other customers, imposing comparable costs and peak energy demands. They rely on the utility system every second of even the sunniest of days to stabilize and supplement the intermittent, and often inadequate, output of their DG systems. Yet, under the net metering rules, net-metered customers avoid paying any significant portion of the fixed costs of the grid necessary to serve them. Those avoided fixed costs are ultimately passed on to other customers, resulting in a significant subsidy to net-metered customers.”
-Tucson Electric Power and UNS Electric
ACC filing, November 4
 
“Grid maintenance, transmission lines and transformers, customer service, and other costs associated with providing consistent, steady electricity to homes and businesses have historically been borne by
everyone using it. Now, as more and more Arizonans add rooftop solar to their homes, less and less people are paying for the electric grid that everyone is connected to.”
-Marita Noon
Executive Director of Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy, Letter to the ACC, November 1
 
“Under the current net metering policies solar customers sell their power to the utilities at a rate much higher than those utilities could buy it for on the open market. This creates a system where solar customers avoid costs on their utility bills thus forcing traditional customers to pay a greater share.”
-Jim Buster
Avondale City Councilman, Letter to the ACC, November 1
 
“The experience we’ve observed in Europe says they did not address the issue and it has gotten a little bit out of control where the non (solar) customers are angry and are seeing their bills skyrocketing,”
-David Owens
Executive Vice President of  Business Operations at the Edison Electric Institute, Arizona Republic 

“There is a way to correct net-metering without damaging the solar industry of Arizona. There is also a way to make sure that fairness is being applied to all those who are using the grid, whether they are solar or non-solar users. It’s important that we get this right now, because waiting will only let the imbalance continue.”
-Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio
Letter to the ACC, October 9 

“The way it’s currently structured, the Arizonans without solar panels, the people who either can’t afford solar or choose not to use solar, are left holding the bag to absorb these infrastructure costs through higher utility bills, to subsidize the cost for those who chose solar. This is simply not fair and must be fixed now.”
-Peoria Mayor Bob Barrett
Letter to the ACC, October 17
 
“The great imbalance in this system needs to be resolved immediately. Many of the non-solar users don't have solar panels because they do not have the means to make such a substantial investment. This means that the people who are being penalized here are largely those with lower or fixed incomes and they are being penalized so the more affluent receive a financial break.”
-Yuma Mayor Alan L. Krieger
Letter to the ACC, October 17
 
“Many non-solar users are people who can’t afford the sizable investment that is needed to install rooftop solar panels. I have concerns that, during a time when the economy has still not completely recovered, that infrastructure costs are being shifted to those who can least afford to bear that burden. Ultimately, Arizonans without solar panels are seeing their utility bills rise.”
-Phoenix City Councilman Jim Waring
Letter to the ACC, October 17
 
“All energy consumers rely on the power grid, and it's unfair to expect the shrinking number of non-solar users to cover the cost for the growing number of solar users. There are many Arizonans who would like to have solar panels, but cannot afford the investment. This program is essentially creating a tax on lower-income families and those who choose not to use solar panels.”
-Arizona State Senator Carolyn Allen
Letter to the ACC, October 17
 
“Now that solar has had the push it needed to get off the ground and running, I believe that we need to address the disadvantage in the system to the traditional energy customers. These non-net-metered customers are the primary payers for infrastructure costs associated with the electrical grid, when the solar net-metered customers are also using the grid—to sell excess power and buy power as needed, in the form of credits. The poles, wires, and technological improvements are all being paid for by non-solar users, and for low-income Arizonans or seniors on a fixed income, this cost has simply become too much to bear.”
-William Assenmacher
President and CEO of CAID Industries, Letter to the ACC, October 17
 
“I believe that solar customers who are selling back power to the utility companies have a responsibility to pay their fair share for the equipment that allows them to do so. Right now, non net-metered customers are basically the only ones paying for utility infrastructure despite the reality that both solar and non-solar users are using that very infrastructure, This is unfair for the regular Joe who does not have solar, but it is especially unfair for the seniors or low-income families who can no way afford solar on their roofs.”
-Arizona State Representative Jeff Dial
Letter to the ACC, October 17

“Net-metering punishes traditional energy consumers by requiring traditional consumers to pay for infrastructure costs that support the power grid, in the form of higher utility bills. Net-metered customers do not have to pay for such costs when they are using the same grid—to buy power, and also to sell power. This inequity strikes me as an uneven playing field for traditional consumers.”
-Joe Galli
Executive Director at North Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce, Letter to the ACC, October 17

“Under Arizona’s current Net Energy Metering Program, utility customers are seeing inconsistent energy costs between solar and non-solar ratepayers. Although [net] metering is a beneficial tool that has led to an increased public interest in solar use, it has also led to increasingly higher rates for those non-participating customers.”

-Arizona State Senator Steve Pierce
Letter to the ACC, June 25

“How much longer should the fellow down the street with solar panels be allowed to sell excess electricity back into the grid at an advantageous price — and at your expense?”

-Vincent Carroll
Denver Post editorial page editor

“We want the voters, the people, the public of Arizona to understand these policy choices… that we should and we can have solar, but it needs to be fair and sustainable, and everybody participating in that process, meaning everybody who receives and uses power in this state, should pay for their portion of the grid. And if they don’t, it’s a subsidy.”

-Kirk Adams
Former Arizona State Representative, 12 News

“If you move from a few customers having solar to 10% or 20%, you can’t sustain that within the current tariffs. There will be sizable cost shifts, and then you’re dealing with a situation where you have the haves and the have-nots.”

-Matthew Freedman
Staff Attorney with the Utility Reform Network, Wall Street Journal

“While those who have joined the net metering movement will save – and in some cases make – money, the tension between these few beneficiaries and the majority who do not generate their own power is growing as one home’s savings becomes another home’s burden.”

-Kristal High
Co-founder and Editor in Chief of Politic365

“The rooftop solar industry is fighting, and fighting dirty, to retain its current subsidy in the form of what is called net-metering. The Corporation Commission currently requires APS to pay its retail rate to purchase excess power from residential rooftop solar panels. So, the rooftop owner gets a retail price for what amounts to wholesale power and pays nothing for APS’s distribution costs to get those electrons to the next customer. And APS’s other captive ratepayers get stuck with the bill for the high-priced excess rooftop solar generation.”

-Robert Robb
Arizona Republic Columnist

“Any additional cost or delta revenue loss attributable to distributed generation that is passed on to the balance of customers has a high probability of being a wealth transfer for the less affluent to the more affluent.”

-Ashley Brown and Louisa Lund
Harvard Electricity Policy Group and the Consortium for Energy Policy Research, The Electricity Journal

“Under net metering, offering an energy credit to solar customers for excess power that they put back on the grid is a reasonable idea in concept, as long as other ratepayers are not forced to pay more for the energy than what the market dictates. The current program, however, requires utility providers to pay several times more for this energy than what it is worth, a costly burden for all other ratepayers.”

-Scot Mussi
Executive Director of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club

“[RUCO director Pat Quinn] said that RUCO agrees with APS that solar customers shift costs to non-solar customers.”

-Arizona Republic

“If you have a solar panel on your house and it’s cloudy for a week and it produces no electricity...those [utility] assets have to be paid for. Do you believe it’s fair for your neighbor, who doesn’t have a solar panel, to pay for that because you want that there...and you only pay for it when you’re not generating power?”

-Stan Blackwell
Director of customer solutions at Dominion Virginia Power, The Washington Post

“You’ll have a lot of folks that either were unaware, or can’t afford, or just couldn’t for whatever reason… participate in a distributed generation model, and end up shouldering a lot more costs for those who can.”

-Ryan Fitzpatrick
Senior policy advisor for Third Way, SNL Energy

“We need to set the stage for continued growth in solar in what we believe will be a sustainable way which is to not have solar customers that are being subsidized by the rest of our customers and producing unsustainable rates for those customers.”

-David Rubin
Customer energy solutions manager at Pacific Gas and Electric, Grist

“There’s no question that there’s a subsidy to solar customers. Net metering was a policy designed to jump-start the solar industry in California, but it’s not a sustainable policy.”

-Marcel Hawiger
The Utility Reform Network, San Jose Mercury News

“The total cost of rooftop PV on the utility system has become much higher than could have been foreseen, placing an unanticipated burden on utilities and ratepayers.”

-First Solar filing to the Arizona Corporation Commission
GreenTech Media

“With the current rates, net-metered customers are essentially getting a free pass on paying for critical infrastructure costs that support the electrical grid. These infrastructure items, such as poles and wires and transmission lines, are being used by both those customers with and without solar panels on their roofs. I know that the issue is very sensitive to solar users, but I can’t see how it is fair for those with low-incomes or seniors on limited budgets to have to pick up the slack financially.”

-Arizona State Senator Nancy Barto
Letter to the ACC, October 9


*NEM = net energy metering | *DG = distributed generation, referring to rooftop solar


View a selection of these quotes in a PDF.