- Salt River Project (SRP), a public power utility serving almost a million customers in southern Arizona, last week finalized an across-the-board rate increase of 3.3% and added an average of $50 per month to new solar owners' bills in demand and distribution charges.
- Now, SolarCity, the leading solar installer in Arizona and the U.S., filed an anti-trust suit against SRP for anti-competitive business practices. It claims the utility is exerting monopoly control over the market to drive out competition created when solar owners provide a portion of their own electricity instead of paying SRP to provide it.
- SRP argued the charges to purchasers and leasers of solar after December 8, 2014, are necessary because solar owners who buy less utility electricity pay proportionately lower infrastructure charges, shifting costs for the transmission and distribution system to non-solar owners.
The next step in the legal process is for SRP to provide an explanation in discovery of how they justify the new charges, SolarCity Associate General Counsel Fred Norton told Utility Dive.
A SolarCity blog post announcing the lawsuit said the SRP charges “punish customers” who purchase solar with “discriminatory penalties” and will make the rooftop solar business “impossible” in SRP’s territory.
"Rather than solve this cost shift with an additional fixed charge – which does not provide flexibility to save money – our new plan sends a price signal that incents more efficient installations by the solar industry and behavior by the customer that maximizes the value of their solar systems," said SRP CFO Aidan McSheffrey.
SolarCity said this move by SRP threatens many of Arizona’s more than 9,000 solar jobs and solar growth that has made Arizona one of the top ten states for installed solar capacity. Post-December 8, 2014, applications for rooftop solar in the SRP territory fell 96%.