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The Arizona Corporation Commission ruled yesterday that the connection fee that houses with solar panels would have to pay to be connected to the grid was $4.90 a month.  There was a highly recommended diary in anticipation so I thought people would be interested in how it turned out.  Personally, I think $4.90/month is a perfectly reasonable fee considering that people are still benefiting and need the grid even if their net usage is zero.   It's hard for me to tell how realistic the $50-100 numbers ever were in the first place.  Were they a scare tactic by the people who wanted $0 to drum up outrage, or were they a negotiation ploy by APS to get their $4.90?  I mean hell, $100 is nearly our entire non-summer electric bill for a fairly large house.  

So hopefully now that we know the real number is only $4.90, we can have a more reasoned discussion.

Originally posted to shaso on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 08:43 AM PST.

Also republished by Phoenix Kossacks and DK GreenRoots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Why is there a fee at all? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bbctooman, oldpotsmuggler

    These lines are established. This is nothing more than an electric company gouge because they know solar will ruin their business model.

  •  Yay! A bright spot! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CS in AZ, Aunt Pat, myboo, patbahn

    If there was ever a place just meant for solar, it's AZ. Lots and lots of sun, and lots and lots of need for power (AC).

    It's a great place to show off the potential of solar, and I am soooo relieved that this turned out OK.

    "I believe that some fine day, the children of Abraham
    will lay down their swords forever in Jerusalem."

    by Ducktape on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 09:01:05 AM PST

  •  Thanks for sharing the good news (10+ / 0-)

    A friend of ours just had a home solar system installed a couple of months ago and has been encouraging us to jump on board too. We're thinking seriously about going for it. The system is expensive, it seems like a big commitment, but it makes sense.

    •  Does this just apply to APS, (0+ / 0-)

           or will TEP have a similar charge ?

      The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

      by Azazello on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 09:11:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good question Azazello - I don't know (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        If we decide to move ahead with it we'll have to research all the details. So far I know that it cost our friend about 20K to install his system, but they do it on a long-term lease so you have to pay monthly payments on it, but it is less than average electric bills and now his bill with TPE is less than 10.00 a month and he even has a credit some months. And I learned that unfortunately -- to me the big disappointment -- you're still dependent on the grid for power. So if the power goes out on the grid, you're in the dark like everyone else. It seemed to me that with solar power we should be set either way, but no. So that made me reconsider it ... along with the 20K long-term lease thing... now we're on the fence but still interested in learning more.

        •  It's really expensive to get off the grid... (0+ / 0-)

          entirely. The problem is the large battery banks required and that need replacement every 6-8 years or so. That said, SMA, one of the largest inverter manufacturers now offers a line of grid-tie inverters which feature an outlet than can provide up to 15 amps while the sun is shining even if the grid is down. That would be a way to have some relief during power outages.

          Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

          by Ian S on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 01:34:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  TEP will follow (0+ / 0-)

        it happens

    •  I want to but I'm a TRICO customer and they (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Azazello, Aunt Pat, sturunner, CS in AZ

      have a really crappy rebate to nothing basically and then it requires licensed contractor installation and setup as well as connection.  Can't do the install myself or have my buddy the electrician who does solar install and hookup do it as he isn't a licensed contractor....

      And the lease companies won't lease to a "mobile home" even though it's a legally affixed double with the tongues cut off....

      It's never moving but like with the insurance co's any mobile that isn't almost brand new is pariah property......

      Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
      I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
      Emiliano Zapata

      by buddabelly on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 09:18:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can't you do something "on the sly" out there? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buddabelly, patbahn

        You could wire the house like a boat, with DC, and have a dual system.

        The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

        by Azazello on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 09:26:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I could I would just like to cut the electric bill (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Azazello, Aunt Pat, sturunner

          too....most of my usage is coolers, heaters and cooking, tv/puter etc.....I'd almost need a battery bank and inverter too as all I can realistically switch to 12 or 24 DC is the lighting and such...the minimal new freezer added 10-15 a month it seems so there goes the savings from the non frost free fridge........

          I'm going to get some as a backstop to nightmares but I don't know if I'm going to go with a full system or just minimal to run emergencies.

          That and I want to get my fireplace installed before the cold hits...At least this year I can afford the roof jack and such so I don't burn down my little hellhole....

          Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
          I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
          Emiliano Zapata

          by buddabelly on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 09:34:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  resistance heat will run on dc (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Aunt Pat, buddabelly
            •  true, I know DC appliances tend to be (0+ / 0-)

              expensive and small compared to 110 stuff, at least it used to be....I haven't done the research to know for sure what current pricing is on stuff.  I will before I pop for panels though.

              I just had to buy a washer too and the dryer was almost dead so just spent a fortune to hopefully save some water and juice by switching to a new high tech frontloader set......even does steam cleaning and drying and plays you a little song when it's done...heh...they do work well though and they do save a ton of water I got a smokin actual sale price on them at a third off day to day and I actually saw them at full price next time I went to the store...I choked and realized I would still be using a toploader for full price....

              Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
              I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
              Emiliano Zapata

              by buddabelly on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 12:50:45 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Frost free refrigerators take MORE energy... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Aunt Pat, Azazello, buddabelly

            We kept an old 1952 Norge going, because it doesn't defrost itself periodically, doesn't have an icemaker in the door, and is much smaller than a modern refrigerator...all of which adds up to it using less energy.  I checked the actual measured numbers.

            "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." --Townes Van Zandt

            by Bisbonian on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 11:13:27 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I know, I picked up this older GE unit maybe 10 (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              myboo, Bisbonian

              years ago...It's not only not frost free, it doesn't even have a fan in's more an "icebox" than a refrigerator....I love it...It took 20 bucks a month off my bill and food lasts forever without drying out...veggies don't wilt, it's freakin amazing....everything lasts considerably longer than it ever did in any of my other refrigerators....

              Only problem is it has a tiny freezer so I recently picked up a chest freezer as I'm an extreme sale shopper when it comes to food and needed the space.  Unfortunately, adding the capacity added to my bill cancelling the savings I had...almost, i'm still ahead a bit.....

              I wouldn't give up my old icebox for anything at this point as I love the extra food life....being a single male, I'm not always as careful as I should be to properly pack leftovers and the icebox saved me many times.

              Plus here in Altar Valley with no humidity, I need to defrost it once a year, maybe.....

              Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
              I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
              Emiliano Zapata

              by buddabelly on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 12:39:25 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Typically, when there is a connection to the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jimdotz, Assaf

    grid, the power produced that isn't used on site, get pushed into the grid and the power company has to accommodate the flow and, in some places, pay per kilowat. How reliable that connection will be is a consideration.

    •  And, they buy the power at the RETAIL price (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erush1345, hannah

      The laws are written (net metering) so that the utility is required to pay more for the power than it costs for them to produce it themselves.  This is, in actuality, a subsidy provided by the entire customer base to those who install solar panels.  Basically, the poorest customers are subsidizing the richest customers, because the poor cannot afford solar panels, even if they happen to own the house that they live in, which isn't all that likely in the first place.

      It really does get complicated.  Wind power is subsidized by a Federal TAX CREDIT to the tune of 1.8 cents per KWH.  This is a sop to the richest in society, who invest in wind, not because they believe in green energy, but because they can make a profit AND lower their overall tax bill.  As is often pointed out, loss of revenue to the federal government has an enormous effect on society, with the burden falling hardest on the poor.  Subsidizing the green power industry isn't all that different from subsidizing the oil industry, because the monetary benefits go overwhelmingly to the richest 1% and the financial burden falls overwhelmingly on everybody else.

      I don't know how to make this more equitable, but I do see the problem.

      •  tax credits (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:


      •  Fine by me. (4+ / 0-)
        Wind power is subsidized by a Federal TAX CREDIT to the tune of 1.8 cents per KWH.  This is a sop to the richest in society, who invest in wind, not because they believe in green energy, but because they can make a profit AND lower their overall tax bill. [...] Subsidizing the green power industry isn't all that different from subsidizing the oil industry, because the monetary benefits go overwhelmingly to the richest 1% and the financial burden falls overwhelmingly on everybody else.
        ...except that the green power industry, unlike the oil industry, isn't a major contributing factor to climate change, air pollution, and other forms of environmental damage, or an industry that requires the US to be dependent on massive amounts of imports from other countries.

        The whole point of government subsidizing certain industries is to get more investors on board than just those who "believe" in those industries, and to make them more profitable for those who care about profit. If the wealthy are going to shift their investments from oil to green energy, I couldn't care less whether it's because they're the hippie-est hippies to ever hippie, or because they think it'll make them a buck. What matters is the investment itself.

        If subsidizing wind power helps the rich more than the poor in the short term, that's completely fine by me. The effects of climate change will fall disproportionately on the backs of the world's poorest. Anything that mitigates climate change mitigates those negative effects.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 10:25:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's all well and good (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Unless you happen to be really poor and must make a choice between feeding your kids or keeping the lights on.  Or the government makes a choice between subsidizing the 1% through tax credits for green power or dirty power and cutting food stamps.  Much like the butterfly flapping its wings, everything is connected.

          And, that is why we are doomed to changing climate.  Third world countries, especially, must make choices similar to this.  Cut the rain forest or let your children starve--what choice do you think that they will make?  Many countries made the choice more than a century ago--Haiti, is a good example.  Cut the forests for fuel or eat raw food and have no heat or building materials--we can see the result.  When people are cold, or hungry, they need those things now, and they are going to take them despite the consequences for the future.  Even the populations of first world countries make the selfish choices.  I see no way to stop it.

      •  Here in Arizona, not all the power is... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        purchased at the retail price. If you have banked power at the end of the year, APS gives you a bill credit of $0.029 per kWh which is far less than wholesale. And they sold that power the instant it was produced months earlier for the full retail price. Also keep in mind that it's not just large systems that will have excess power: during the summer, my usage far outstripped my production but as my usage has tailed off since August, I am now banking energy and at the end of the year true-up I expect to have 500 or so Kwh of peak production that will be paid at the giveaway price. This was a little noticed change instituted this year; it was $0.06 before the change.

        Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

        by Ian S on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 01:44:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe the low bankpower price is why (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          erush1345, hannah

          the facilities fee that they got was so small???

          When there aren't a lot of home solar producers there are few problems, but when there are many home solar installations feeding back into the grid it is a different story.  Think thousands of small power plants going on-or-off-line, and all not quite at the same time.  There isn't a simple solution to grid instability.


          Ignore the final paragraph in the above, which is an obvious cheering section for a specific part of the power industry and read the rest of the article which does illustrate specific points which every power engineer I know agrees with.  For the record, my second career was in power production, mostly hydro, and I've seen the difficulty of maintaining grid voltage when large wind farms are operating on a day with fluctuating winds, so I can imagine the problems with large numbers of PV installations.  Hydro is ideal for reserve, because hydro can go from dead-stop to full generation in under a minute, but hydro isn't available throughout most of the country and that means gas-fired power isn't going away and will probably even need to be expanded, along with a hugely expensive build-out of the grid if we hope to make renewables viable nationwide.

  •  Seems a reasonable fee... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maggid, Assaf, oldpotsmuggler

    My concern is now we have a grid fee, and it will only go up every time APS comes before the ACC. Will the fee still be reasonable in a year, 2 years, 5 years...

    A mind like a book, has to be open to function properly.

    by falconer520 on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 09:44:42 AM PST

  •  Thanks for update! As I commented yesterday, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    patbahn, unfangus, oldpotsmuggler

    regardless of what ploys the APS-ALEC-Koch cabal tries to pull, the public winds are blowing in their face (solar winds, of course, haha).

    Rooftop solar has become mainstream and popular across most segments of the population. Instituting an outsized "rooftop tax" is now a political loser even in Arizona.

    The $4.90/month will not deter anyone from getting rooftop solar, when the entire system's cost is on the order of $20k, and payments (in either direction) are on the order of $1k/year or more.

    But the fee will shut up the APS' whiny trap for a long time.

    •  I don't think it will... (0+ / 0-)
      But the fee will shut up the APS' whiny trap for a long time.
      They will be back - all they need is one vote to flip on the Commisssion.

      Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

      by Ian S on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 01:47:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just read the article: fee is not $4.90, but $2-3 (4+ / 0-)

    for typical rooftop system.

    It is 70 cents per installed kW, per month.

    Typical rooftop systems are 3-4 kW. So most people would see $2-3. Have you ever seen any of your utility bills? There are already a handful of $2-3 line items in every single bill, that none of us can decipher. IOW, in dollar amounts this is negligible for the individual consumer.

    I believe $4.90/month is the maximum amount. A 7kW system (leading to $4.90) is indeed humungous.

    If solar proponents are smart, they won't protest so loudly as to dissuade potential new installers.
    Just enough to clarify that higher fees might indeed be counter-productive.

    •  Does 3-4kW (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Come close to meeting a house's energy needs?  This page suggests I'd need 9-10kW using Arizona, and 12-13kW based on where I actually live.  Is that out of date?

      •  Our 6.28kW system handles about 50% (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Assaf, shaso

        We won't have to pay this surcharge, but we have always had to purchase additional power.  We've only generated excess power for 2 months during the 6 years since installation.  The whole thing smells political to me, but everything in Arizona is tea party political so no surprise.

        What, me worry? I read MAD Magazine.

        by Bill Roberts on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 11:31:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  1.Feasibility: roofs are only that big (hopefully) (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          A typical home's roof can hardly fit >5kW systems on its sunny side (and generally speaking, putting up cells on the non-sunny side is wasteful, unless you live in the tropics, at least until their efficiency improves some more).

          2. Conservation: fact of the matter, Americans still consume energy like pigs, pardon the expression.

          If people have their homewide AC/heating on 24/7, set to 70F, for most of the year, then no matter how much renewable energy is installed - we're screwed.

          As to capacity vs. consumption: a neighbor here in Seattle reports about 1 MWh/year per kW installed.According to this Federal map, AZ should see nearly double that.

          Average statewide household electricity consumption varies from 6 to 16 MWh/year.

          Again, understandably families in AZ would need to use the AC more.

          But it's all moot: the point of rooftop-solar, and this diary's entire premise, is grid-connected systems.

          Rooftop solar are entering the equation not as direct providers of their owners' needs, but as a crowd-sourced, distributed power system to supplement larger ones, and eventually help replace fossil sources.

          Remember that rooftop solar can also be built on top of larger institutional and industrial buildings, installations of tens of kW, possibly even a few MW, each.

          After all, you don't produce all the food your family eats either, do you?

    •  Here in Arizona, a 4 kW system is tiny... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      mine is 6.9 kW and supposedly about average. It covers about 65% of my electrical usage. I am "grandfathered" to not having to pay the fee however, it was made clear at the ACC meeting that no Commission can tie a future commission's hands.

      This fee is merely a foot in the door and passed by the minimum 3-2 vote. The dissenters wanted a higher fee. I have no problem with the fee but bear in mind it is more than an order of magnitude smaller than what APS asked for. All of the Commissioners are Republicans and in Arizona that tends to mean bat-shit crazy. There will be big changes in the next rate case about 2 years away and I suspect the screws will be further tightened on solar, even the grandfathered systems.

      Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

      by Ian S on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 01:26:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This sounds a lot like... (0+ / 0-)

    charging an extra fee for a consumer who installs energy efficient appliances.

    •  Not quite (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Efficient appliances don't put "excess" energy back onto the grid.  Not using electricity just means that the grid needs to have less capacity, but when you have thousands of little power plants supplying the grid then you actually need a much larger grid to transfer that capacity, because a large area of suppliers aren't users, which means that the demand is remote from the supply.  See the difference?

      Germany is having this very problem, now.

      •  But the fee is not calculated based on what... (0+ / 0-)

        you send back to the grid. You could use every electron you produced without sending any back to the grid and still have the full fee as it's based solely on the size of your system.

        Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

        by Ian S on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 01:55:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  As I mentioned in my first post (0+ / 0-)

          I pay a $21 fee for "facilities maintenance", even if I use zero power.  Irrigators, commercial and industrial users pay a still higher fee, and were charged the fee for many years before it was expanded to residential customers. This fee is in addition to the charge for KWH of actual usage, so such fees are not unheard of, and my local fee is based on the size of the service to my property.  I grant that they are charging you for having a solar installation and that they have convinced the regulatory commission that your installation results in a cost to them, and the commission agrees, and that they are entitled to recovery of those costs.  I would expect those costs to rise as the number of small solar installations increases because expensive mitigation will need to be added to enhance grid stability.  Some costs will be borne by all of the utility customers via higher rates and others will be charged to the solar producers in the form of higher fees.

          •  My base bill is $18.00 even if I use no... (0+ / 0-)

            electricity at all. That applies to all users. I don't know if that's comparable to your "facilities maintenance" or not. APS says the $18.00 doesn't cover grid maintenance and based on their claim that people with solar should be paying between $50 and $100 per month for our share of grid expenses, I suspect not. It will be interesting to see if APS proposes full decoupling of the grid costs from the energy costs in the next rate case. Let them make the argument that everyone should be paying that $50-100/mo fee. I suspect they won't.

            Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

            by Ian S on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 02:55:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  More on the record as my opinion (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ian S

              I think power production and distribution should be a public utility.  All of it.  Public power doesn't solve all of the problems (think TVA), but an entity that provides power not for profit but as a true public service is far preferrable to one that provides power for the benefit of its stockholders.  For one thing, there can be an element of trust between customer and provider when the primary motive is service.  I can dream, but it will never happen in this political climate.  I remember a few years ago, the progressive voters of Portland, OR rejected converting Pacific Power to a Public Utility.  If it can't win in Portland, it probably won't win anywhere, which just reinforces my opinion that voters tend to be know-nothings, easily manipulated by business interests.  When the motivation is fear the decisions made are poor.

            •  It seems unlikely... (0+ / 0-)

              a service fee wouldn't cover infrastructure.  Again, enough people install energy efficient appliances and they don't have enough money to maintain the grid.

      •  The US added over 26,000MW... (0+ / 0-)

        in generating capacity last year.  It's doubtful a few 70kW suppliers are going to overtax the system, especially when that excess capacity comes during peak hours.  

  •  this surcharge is in addition (0+ / 0-)

    to the base bill amount, which they claim is to pay for reading your meter and other assorted "overheads".  Details are on your APS bill.

    I've worked with and within the publis and private utilities in two different states.  Arizona is very ill-served by its utility "regulators".  State of Washington actually has an independant commission and they ride herd on the utilities pretty well, at least they used to.

    Here the Corporate Commission (elected) serve only the businesses in Arizona and they consider their job to ensure the private utilites (APS) get a return on their investment.  In other words they are allowed to charge what they want.  This wouldn't have ended up $4.90 (plus your other monthly fixed fees) if APS hadn't wanted it that way.

    I've said it here before, the only way this will change is if the cost of solar (and batteries) gets to the point where its "grid-parity" or close.  Then the utilities will dry up and blow away.  In Arizona that means the huge development corp that owns APS will just make their money by scewing someone else.

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