TEMPE, AZ – Today the Salt River Project (SRP) Board of Directors approved a rate plan that increases rates on new solar customers by an average of $50 per month.
The vote ended a three month process marked by outcry from hundreds of SRP customers, the solar industry and environmental advocates over the proposed solar rate increase, which will be one of the highest in the nation imposed on residential solar users. The board also voted to increase rates for all SRP customers by 3.9 percent.
“As usual it was a sunny day in Tempe, but SRP just cast a giant cloud on solar energy in Arizona,” said Environment Arizona’s Bret Fanshaw. “By voting for today’s proposal, the SRP Board of Directors turned its back on the sun, Arizona’s greatest and cleanest resource.”
Board members heard from hundreds of members of the public in hearings over the past three months, including today. The majority of testimony opposed the solar rate hike, citing concerns of fairness, the direction of the utility's rate structure and environmental concerns from continuing to burn fossil fuels like coal and gas – the majority of SRP’s energy portfolio.
“We know climate change is going to affect Arizona with continued drought, rising temperatures and wildfires,” said Fanshaw. “Solar is a solution to the climate crisis that we can tap into on our roofs every day. We are disappointed in SRP’s decision to undermine rooftop solar in Arizona with today's vote.”
Stephen Williams and Keith Woods were the only board members to vote against the proposal.
The solar rate hike will affect new solar customers that signed a contract after the December 8, 2014 deadline set by SRP. Rates for new rooftop solar customers will be calculated based on a demand charge, which typically only applies to industrial energy users. That rate has been calculated at an additional $50 per month to the average solar customer.
In a concession, the SRP board voted to allow all existing solar customers that signed up before Dec. 8 to remain under the previous rate structure for up to 20 years. Customers that signed a contract must have the solar system installed by one Feb. 26, 2016 in order to qualify. The board also allowed for unlimited transfers of the grandfathered solar systems to new owners under the old rate design.
"While we appreciate that SRP will honor existing solar agreements, the fact remains that they approved one of the worst proposals for rooftop solar in the nation today," said Fanshaw. "SRP can do better. Arizona can do better."