- The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC), an advocacy group representing national solar installers has launched a website targeting investor-owned utility American Electric Power, Greentech Media reports.
- The site and its contents are intended to highlight what TASC called “shady tactics” to stop competition from solar and get ratepayers to guarantee profits from its fleet of aging coal plants.
- An AEP spokesperson said TASC’s accusations are a misrepresentation of the utility’s efforts to get regulators to make rates and policies fair for all customers. “They position the issue as the big, bad utility against homeowners who just want to have solar on their roofs,” she explained. “They represent the solar developers and advocacy groups and not necessarily the solar customers.”
The hostility between AEP and TASC began with fights over policy and rate design. Solar advocates prevailed in a landmark early clash over net energy metering in Arizona and in more recent confrontations in Indiana and West Virginia.
Utilities did, however, convince regulators in Wisconsin and Arizona to institute demand charges on solar owners that compromise the solar value proposition. And the elected Salt River Project board approved a demand charge that could increase solar customers’ monthly bills unless they alter their peak demand electricity usage. SolarCity is suing the utility for “anti-competitive” practices.
When Arizona Public Service (APS) asked its regulators for a similar monthly fee, the utility spent $3.7 million on advertising and lobbying. The solar industry spent $436,000 but prevailed on commissioners to lower the monthly charge about 90%.
TASC calls AEP the “APS of the East” and asserts that AEP is behind legislation that would requrie regulators in the process of setting rates and charges to only consider the short term energy value of solar instead of recognizing its long term system and societal values.