A new player is entering the Arizona electrical supply field, as Green Mountain Energy, a 100% renewable-sourced electric company and subsidiary of NRG Inc., has filed an application to the Arizona Corporation Commission to provide regulated competitive retail electric services in accordance with the Energy Competition Act (ECA).
ECA, which provides energy suppliers the right to petition the Commission for issuance of a certificate to provide regulated competitive retail electric services in Arizona, was confirmed in 2020 by an Arizona Supreme court decision. Green Mountain Energy is among the first companies to apply under the policy.
The application outlines that Green Mountain Energy is looking to serve customers currently within Arizona Public Service (APS) and Tucson Electric Power’s (TEP) service areas, which cover the majority of the state. This would be the first time that customers in these service areas would have a choice in not just their electrical supplier, but in the type of resources that will be powering their homes and businesses.
And while APS and TEP are expected to challenge the application to the Commission – and possibly enter court if the Commission petition fails – the language of Green Mountain Energy’s application makes it clear the the company believes this application is entirely in accordance with and protected by ECA. The law does contain a clause stating that “a competitive market shall exist,” in reference to the state’s electricity market.
Additionally, in an interview with The Arizona Republic, Mark Parsons, vice president and general manager for Green Mountain Energy, said that his company has conducted surveys and interviews with electrical customers in the state, finding that the “overwhelming response” was that customers wanted choice in their electric provider and to have the electricity that they purchase come from renewable resources.
Specifically, the company claims that, of survey respondents:
- 80% want the freedom of choice in energy and direct access to state-approved electric service providers
- 84% want the option to purchase green power and energy
- 90% want a “customer protections bill of rights” to protect customers from unfair, misleading, and deceptive practices, including protection from unauthorized billings.
The claim that the electricity supplied by Green Mountain Energy will be 100% renewable is true – broadly. Green Mountain Energy doesn’t actually own any generation assets, rather it purchases renewable energy and the associated renewable energy credits from others, including its parent company, NRG. So while every single electron sent to a customer’s home may not have been renewably generated, the energy bills they pay fund renewable energy projects.
Included in the application, Green Mountain Energy is also asking the Commission to approve its rate plans, which look to lock in a fixed price for customers one year at a time. The application also includes a cap on prices and an option for commercial customers to choose fixed rates or contracts that have variable prices. All Green Mountain Energy customers would still receive some level of billing from their former utility, under a structure known as “utility-consolidated billing.” These bills would cover transmission and billing charges for either APS or TEP, whichever the customer was formerly served by.
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