Arizona regulators axe grid access charge


A grid access charge that had been in place for nearly a decade for Arizona Public Service’s solar customers is no more. State regulators have chosen to eliminate the fee.

The fee amounted to roughly $100 per year per solar customer It was instituted under the premise that it costs the utility more to provide solar customers with electricity service. The decision to remove the charge is, in large part, due to the efforts of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The organization testified against the charges in October 2020 and December 2020 and showed that solar customers paid their fair share of grid costs compared to non-solar customers.

In addition, SEIA showed the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) that the utility’s claims about increased service costs for solar customers were unsubstantiated.

The decision was a long time coming, especially as regulators had previously shot down attempts by two other state utilities to institute their own grid access charges. In 2018, ACC shot down a similar proposed charge in rate cases for Tucson Electric Power and UNS Electric. In that decision, regulators ruled that the tariff would over-recover costs from solar customers.

At the time of that decision, Vote Solar said that the ruling rejecting the grid access fee could be meaningful as a basis for other decisions. Now, three years later, that prediction has come true.

“The commission showed a lot of leadership on how those studies should be implemented going forward,” said Vote Solar’s Briana Kobor.

SEIA referred to Arizona Public Service’s overturned charge as “outdated” and a “drag on the Arizona solar economy.”

“We are at a point in our country where we need to focus on deploying more clean energy and unnecessary utility charges and fees can be a major deterrent to potential solar customers,” said Sara Birmingham, senior director of state policy, West at SEIA. “This change will more fairly recognize the benefits of local solar adoption and we hope we can expand solar accessibility to even more Arizonans.”

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