Solar advocates, lawmakers drop dueling Arizona ballot initiatives in cease-fire
- Arizona solar advocates and lawmakers negotiated a compromise last night, leading them to drop dueling solar ballot initiatives to amend the state's constitution, the Arizona Republic reports. The cease-fire will allow both sides the opportunity for settlement talks in the hopes of reaching a compromise that will boost solar while addressing the concerns of utilities.
- Solar companies and advocates crafted The Energy Freedom Act, which would have amended the state constitution to prevent regulators from lowering current net metering rates until 2022. The initiative was filed by Yes on AZ Solar, a political action committee funded by SolarCity.
- In response, state Sen. Debbie Lesko (R) drafted a ballot initiative that would have prevented state regulators from directing utilities to pay more than the wholesale rate for excess energy exported to the grid by distributed generation.
Arizona's simmering solar issues have flared up again with two dueling ballot initiatives on the table. But a late night cease-fire appears to have calmed the heated debate for now. At the heart of the debate was the same issue that's been in the spotlight since 2013: how to properly compensate residential solar without creating a cost-shift.
Arizona's head utility regulator expressed relief that the dispute was over for now.
"It would have been a pretty ugly dispute between the ballot measures over the summer," Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) Chairman Doug Little told the news outlet. Sen. Leskoe's bill recieved preliminary approval just hours before she called a joint press conference to announce the compromise yesterday.
Former ACC Chairwoman Kris Mayes, who has advocated for the rooftop solar sector in the state, said both parties have hired mediators and settlement talks could begin as soon as today. Mayes hopes for a 10-day window to arrive at an agreement satisfactory to both sides and present it to the ACC.
Utilities and solar interests have often been at odds in state debates over how to compensate rooftop solar users, and there has been little collaboration thus far. The cease-fire negotiated last night could set a new tone for the solar debate in Arizona and perhaps other states. The recent compromise between utilities and solar companies to move away from net metering in New York is an example that could prove to be a model as well.
- The Arizona Republic Voter initiatives dropped in solar cease-fire
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