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Policy: Environment & Energy

Sides in Arizona solar power-utility rate issue air ads on TV

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Politics,Associated Press,Arizona,Energy and Environment,Television,Solar Energy

PHOENIX (AP) — The debate over whether Arizona should reduce the benefit that electricity customers receive for selling power from rooftop solar arrays is hitting the airwaves.

The ads are being aired in advance of the Arizona Corporation Commission's expected consideration in November of the policy issue known as "net metering," the Arizona Republic reported.

Arizona Public Service Co. wants the commission to reduce the payments that solar customers receive for sending their excess power to the electrical grid. The company contends those customers aren't paying for the infrastructure they sometimes use when they need more power than their solar panels provide.

An ad by a group supported financially by APS, the state's largest utility, says the solar customers are profiting at the expense of other customers.

That ad shows a man going out to an ice cream truck with his own bowl of ice cream and using the truck's sprinkles and chocolate syrup without paying. In response, the ice-cream vendor raises his prices for children buying ice cream from him.

Meanwhile, an ad from solar companies say state regulators shouldn't change pro-solar policies. It highlights a poll that indicates the commission's members, who are all elected Republicans, could face a backlash if they change the solar rules.

APS' proposal would add $50 to $100 a month to the average solar customer's bill. Solar industry officials say approval would wipe out the financial incentives for using solar and kill their industry.

The Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association, a solar-industry trade group, said Tuesday it wants the corporation commission to investigate whether APS used money from customers to pay for the advertising.

APS officials say the group's complaint is "baseless political slander."

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