Incentive for residents to go solar could be setting

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Some Arizona residents consider themselves paid in sunshine.  But those who have invested in solar energy have watched what utilities will pay for the electricity that they produce continue to fade.

The goal remains: 15 percent of our electricity will come from renewable energy by 2025.  But TEP and other utilities are telling the Arizona Corporation Commission that buying the credits for solar energy from small businesses and residents is just not worth the trouble anymore.

Residents and small businesses that invest in solar, and send power back into the grid, get paid per kilowatt hour.  Getting paid for that credit is considered an incentive.  But the rate has been dropping significantly over the years.  The ACC, which regulates utilities, is hearing from those all over the state.  The utilities, which include Tucson Electric Power, have said that they still want to reach that 15 percent goal for renewable energy; however, the requirement of also using residents and small businesses is no longer practical.

Monday at The Solar Store, president Katharine Kent said that getting rid of this incentive could hurt the industry.  Federal rebates will end in a few years.  She added that the commission has allowed the credits to fall in value and should let the market decide how much they're worth.

"If we are to do anything, I think that they should look at developing a separate renewable energy credit market, an independent market, that can then determine what the price and value of those renewable energy credits are," Kent said.

This week the commission's only hearing utilities' ideas on this.  An administrative judge will come back in a few months to tell them what options are within the boundaries.  There's no action, and there's no timetable for it at this point.

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