Tucson Mayor and City Council Oppose Punitive Solar Proposal

The Tucson City Council unanimously approved a resolution opposing local utility Tucson Electric Power Company’s (TEP) proposals to make solar unaffordable for the nearly half million customers they serve in the Tucson metropolitan area. It’s exciting to see local leaders taking a stand for solar progress, public health and consumer choice in their community!

Saguaro Sunset

TEP’s harmful proposal attacked solar customers from all angles by both reducing the amount of compensation they receive for excess generation and by slapping customers with additional charges. The utility proposed to reduce net metered compensation that customers receive for the solar energy they sell to the grid by fifty percent, which the resolution rightly found “does not accurately reflect the full value of distributed solar to the grid.”

TEP also proposed to double customers’ fixed charges. We’ve intervened in a number of fixed charge rate cases around the country and written at length about why they’re particularly bad for low-income and solar customers. Last week’s resolution agreed, stating that doubling fixed charges “hurts poor and low consumption residential customers, reduces the value of energy efficiency and conservation and discourages distributed solar.”

In addition, TEP also proposed an additional fee of demand charges on solar customers. As we have written about before, demand charges are bad for customers because they reduce control over monthly bills and undermine customers’ ability to save money through energy efficiency and solar while ensuring greater utility profits. Tucson’s resolution agreed, finding that the demand charge would not have the benefits claimed by TEP and would be difficult for residential customers to understand.

Vote Solar commends Mayor Rothschild and the Tucson City Council for their leadership in advancing policies to promote local employment, clean technology, and renewable energy. We have intervened in the TEP rate case which is expected to go to hearing on August 31st . Here’s hoping the outcome keeps Tucson shining.

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