Mediation Suspended between Arizona and Solar Firm
Wednesday, June, 29, 2016
Mediation has hit a speedbump in the dispute between the country’s largest solar company and Arizona state’s largest utility service provider. Representatives from both sides states they called off talks recently as no progress was made.
Officials from the Arizona Public Service Co. and SolarCity had just one meeting with a mediator. They attempted to work out a resolution to their dispute, but negotiations were suspended shortly after talks began. Representatives said the parties agreed to keep what was discussed at the meeting confidential, despite reaching no solution.
The previous deal between the two entities ended a very public dispute. SolarCity backed a voter initiative mandating utilities give money to homeowners with rooftop solar panels equivalent to the retail price for power they are sending to the grid through their panels. (Power homeowners do not use for their own personal use can be used by local utilities and shared among homes without panels, a plan that is controversial among some in the power industry.)
Arizona Public asked lawmakers to refer a measure to voters that would require separate rates for non-solar and solar power.
Both sides met in mid-June. The meeting occurred the same day Arizona Public asked state regulators to end solar power buyback plans. According to those supporting an end to the program, they believe it does not fairly cover the cost of providing power to homes with solar panels. Existing panels will keep their current rate for 20 years. Arizona Public wants to increase residential rates by as much as eight percent and transition customers to a billing plan that costs more when their power surges during peak hours.