Last Thursday, Arizona utility Salt River Project approved a new pricing plan designed to punish customers who choose to go solar. Under the new plan, SRP customers who generate their own power have to pay additional “distribution charges” and “demand charges” that other SRP customers do not. These discriminatory penalties add up to hundreds of dollars per year, and make a competitive rooftop solar business impossible within SRP territory.
On Monday, we responded: we filed a lawsuit in federal court in Arizona, asking the court to stop SRP’s anti-competitive behavior.
For the last several years Arizonans have enjoyed the ability to generate their own electricity on their own property. By choosing to do business with solar companies, they have helped to shape an industry dedicated to providing products and services they actually want. Their choices have also helped contribute to the creation of more than 9,000 local solar jobs in Arizona.
SRP has sabotaged the ability of Arizona consumers to make this choice if they happen to live in SRP territory. We can already see the intended effects: After the effective date of SRP’s new plan (December 8 of last year), applications for rooftop solar in SRP territory fell by 96%.
SRP’s stated reasons for the new plan don’t hold up. What SRP claims now is inconsistent with years of the utility’s own policies regarding the solar industry and its own investments in solar power. Just as importantly, SRP cannot justify the elimination of competition and the denial of Arizonans’ choice in electricity service.
We understand that SRP does not like the choices its customers are making. SRP does not want to lose customers, and revenue to solar companies. But in America, we expect companies to respond to competition and innovation with better service, lower costs, and increased efficiency. What SRP has done instead is unacceptable and unlawful.
The lawsuit we filed today is a necessary response to this behavior. We would much rather devote our energy and resources to the business of building, selling, and leasing solar energy systems that Arizonans want. But we will not sit idly by while Arizona and its reputation as a business-friendly state bear the heavy burden of unlawful abuse of monopoly power.