Arizona’s net-metering soap opera has opened a new chapter, with a current focus on whether utility proposals to eliminate net metering (UNS, TEP, Trico Electric Cooperative, and Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative) or apply additional new DG charges (APS) should be addressed in rate-case proceedings, or whether they may proceed through the current tariff-revision requests. While this might appear to be a fine distinction, the difference is meaningful. Rate cases are governed by a variety of rules and standards that address important elements, such as the general conduct of the case, party obligations, evidence and burden of proof. Those standards are not necessarily the same as those governing a simple tariff revision, or other types of motions or petitions. At this point, with one exception, it is unclear how the Arizona Corporation Commission will address this question, especially for those utilities that do not plan to file rate cases in the near future.
Here is a list of current net-metering cases before the ACC, and the status of each:
- APS has proposed raising its existing $0.70/kW/month LFCR charge on new DG customers to $3/kW/month. The Arizona Corporation Commission has scheduled a procedural conference for June 12, 2015, and set deadlines for briefs and reply briefs. Parties that wish to participate must file briefs in support of their position on whether any portion of the APS request must be considered in a rate case rather than during the present proceeding. The procedural conference will entertain oral arguments on the same issue.
- TEP has proposed replacing net metering with an undefined monetary credit based on large-scale wholesale PPA prices for all exports. The ACC has set deadlines for initial briefs and reply briefs addressing whether TEP’s application should be dismissed, while scheduling oral arguments on June 10, 2015. The ACC’s action follows a Staff request to dismiss TEP’s application and instead address it in a rate case.
- UNS proposed replacing net metering with an undefined monetary credit based on large-scale wholesale PPA prices for all exports. UNS then withdraw that proposal, and instead inserted it into its new rate-case application. In its rate case, UNS also has proposed: (1) raising its basic monthly service charge for all residential customers to $20; (2) creating an optional three-part rate structure for residential and small commercial customers that includes a monthly service charge, a demand component and a volumetric energy component; and (3) a imposing a mandatory three-part rate structure for “partial requirements” customers, including solar PV and other DG customers. Its proposed monetary credit for DG customers currently amounts to $0.058/kWh.
- SSVEC has proposed replacing net metering with avoided-cost credit for all customer exports. Staff have requested that, unless SSVEC agrees to withdraw its application, the ACC establish a briefing schedule to address whether SSVEC’s request should be dismissed or considered a request for interim rate relief. Staff proposed that a schedule for initial briefs and reply briefs, while noting that it might be helpful to also schedule oral arguments after the briefing schedule, and that the ALJ subsequently issue a recommended opinion at the conclusion of the process.
- Trico has proposed replacing net metering with avoided-cost credit for all customer exports. Oral arguments will be heard May 18, 2015, on whether Trico’s request should be considered in an upcoming general rate case rather than in the current proceeding. Briefs and reply briefs have already been filed.