The utility, Arizona Public Service Company (APS), has admitted to funding some anti-solar ads.
The Arizona Republic reported that APS acknowledged it provided money to two conservative non-profits that ran anti-solar ads: 60 Plus and Prosper. The 60 Plus ad said: “Connected companies getting corporate welfare. Now California’s new Solyndras, SunRun and SolarCity, are getting rich off hard-working Arizonans.” The Prosper ad claimed homeowners with solar are paid five times the market rate for the power they produce and return to the grid and that other ratepayers have to foot the bill for that.
The battle in Arizona stems from some changes to net metering rules that APS has proposed. APS says customers with solar installations who get credit for the electricity they send to the power grid are getting a better deal than non-solar customers who must pay the costs of maintaining the utility’s infrastructure.
But The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) says solar customers need a financial incentive and that APS is trying to destroy the solar industry. TASC was formed by four solar companies – SolarCity, Sungevity, Sunrun and Verengo –to ensure the continuation of net energy metering.
The Arizona Corporation Commission is slated to begin hearings on APS’ net-metering proposal in November.
APS spokesman Jim McDonald told the Arizona Republic, that APS supports solar, but the company views net metering as unfair to non-solar customers.
For its part, TASC is requesting the Arizona Corporation Commission and Arizona Attorney General’s Office to investigate if APS used ratepayer money to support the non-profits who ran the anti-solar ads.
APS told the Arizona Republic it made the contributions from profits of its parent company Pinnacle West, a publicly-traded company.
As the battle between APS and solar advocates flared last week, several protestors lined up in front of the utility’s headquarters with signs that read “APS is slimy” and “APS lied.” Most of the protesters were retirees from Goodyear living in a neighborhood where many bought or leased solar panels, reported the Arizona Republic.