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AZ Corporation Commission to reconsider rate increase for APS solar customers

Published: Monday, April 15, 2024 - 1:39pm
Updated: Wednesday, April 17, 2024 - 7:12am

The Arizona Corporation Commission agreed to revisit a vote to increase utility rates for APS solar customers.

An APS rate increase request approved by the commission in February included a new grid access charge that would increase bills by $2 to $3 per month for residential solar customers.

Critics argued the solar fee was added at the last minute after a nearly two-year long rate case, denying due process rights to members of the public impacted by the fee. Autumn Johnson with the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association

“It is both a violation of our due process in that we never got to respond to this suggested new charge and is arbitrary and capricious, which government agencies are not allowed to do,” said Autumn Johnson with the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association. “They have to make decisions based on the evidentiary record, and this is not contained in the record.”

Johnson and the Attorney General’s Office both alleged the solar fee was also illegal because it discriminates against solar customers.

“We cite a number of different statutes, both federal and state, as well as the Arizona Constitution and the ACC's own rules that prohibit discriminatory fees against individual customers, including solar customers, which is what this fee is,” Johnson said. 

The Attorney General’s Office pointed out that the Corporation Commission got rid of a grid access charge paid by solar customers in 2019. In filings with the commission, attorneys for the AG wrote that in 2019 and the current rate case, APS failed to provide evidence justifying why solar customers should pay more than non-solar customers.

“The Commission's acceptance of APS's site load [cost of service study] ignores the substantial evidence that APS does not incur extra costs from providing [resource adequacy] to residential DG customers above what it takes to serve their delivered load,” attorneys with the AG wrote in the request for rehearing. 

During a staff meeting Monday, Corporation Commission Chairman Jim O’Connor said the commission granted a rehearing “with a limited purpose of reviewing the claims made regarding whether the [grid access charge] rates are just and reasonable.”

But the commission later issued a statement indicating its review could have broader implications beyond what was stated in that open meeting.

“The rehearing is limited to the issues pertaining to the adoption of the Grid Access Charge (“GAC”), specifically, whether the GAC rate is just and reasonable, including whether the rate should be higher or lower; whether the GAC rate constitutes an alleged discriminatory fee to solar customers and whether omission of the GAC is discriminatory to non-solar customers,” according to the statement.   

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