Where to Draw the Rooftop Solar DMZ?
In the battle for constitutional supremacy over all things solar (see my previous post), the solar initiative group chaired by former ACC Chair Kris Mayes has decided to call off the dogs following the legislature’s move to counteract the effort with two constitutional measures of their own. Needless to say, the legislative referendums under consideration were not to the solar industry’s liking. This constitutional tit-for-tat led both sides to agree to mutually disarm, and instead pursue negotiations to resolve issues rather than confuse and confound voters with constitutional clutter.
News reports indicate the opposing sides (presumably led by SolarCity and APS, respectively) will engage a mediator to seek compromise on integrating rooftop solar into the utility grid and how to compensate solar installations for exporting power back to the grid.
It’s an equation not easily solved since the costs solar installations impose on the grid and the value solar brings to the grid have been in dispute since 2013. While each side claims good arguments for their respective positions (backed by enough data to make eyes glaze over), those electricity customers without solar are caught in the middle. Do they benefit from their neighbors with solar panels, or do they merely pay more to help their neighbors save on electricity bills?
These are questions currently under examination in several dockets before the Corporation Commission.
I’m not convinced we’ll ever have perfect answers. It’s ultimately up to policymakers to strike a balance between renewable goals, delivery of reliable power via the grid, and fair and reasonable electricity prices for all consumers.
But, for now at least– all’s quiet on the constitutional front.