Back in November, I wrote about how the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was partnering up with the Heartland Institute to attack renewable energy standards across 29 states. As an organization propped up by the fossil fuel industry, this behavior comes as no surprise. But the sneaky way they are trying to undue laws that encourage solar, wind and other renewable energy sources needs to be exposed and citizens of these states must stand up to the corporate interests desperately holding onto their power to pollute. Across the country, we are watching ALEC and industry allies try to unravel decades of progressive energy legislation.
In the sunny southwest, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) has eliminated the performance-based incentives (PBIs) provided to commercial solar energy customers by the state’s two investor-owned utilities (IOUs). It also drastically reduced the upfront incentives (UFIs) provided by the IOUs to residential solar energy customers. SolarCity Governmental Affairs Director Meghan Nutting explained that “as the Arizona incentives have been slowly reduced, the industry has kept up. Ratepayers have invested in the industry to a point where we are almost without a need for incentives. But a sudden and complete elimination of all incentives that cuts the commercial solar industry off at the knees means we will have to start over.” The ACC decision, she added, means “people are going to lose their jobs in the sunniest state in the country in an industry that Arizona has depended on through the recession and should dominate.” The ACC commissioners’ rationale for the cuts was that they will reduce the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) premium added to Arizona ratepayers’ utility bills to fund solar. The REST premium was established by the ACC in 2007 and is capped at $4.00 per month. Calculations by Arizona solar advocates concluded that the PBI cuts will save APS ratepayers no more than $0.02 to $0.06 per month.