As solar panels gain more market share, utilities across the country are trying to find ways to supplement the revenue they're losing. Recent actions in Massachusetts and Nevada have been the most public, but two measures faced Arizona and New Mexico recently.
This week, the Arizona Corporation Commission rejected UNS Electric's proposal to add fees for solar customers and end net metering. Similarly, New Mexico regulators finally reached a deal with Southwester Public Service Company to decrease the fees on solar customers in the service area.
Utility grids are designed to distribute electricity from one or two central locations to many residential and commercial users. But solar customers often feed excess electricity back into the grid from its margins. That cuts into utilities’ profits, so they try their best to put up barriers to the practice.
Solar customers argue that they are conferring a benefit on all people in the service area because their electricity is not made by burning fossil fuels. They say they should be compensated for the improved health prospects of the community. They also argue that they shouldn’t pay as much toward the upkeep of the grid and limited expansion needs because their electricity is used locally and doesn’t need to travel long distances over high-voltage lines.