APS has decided to charge future grid-tied, rooftop solar customers a fee that APS claims is required to maintain the power grid. Is this new policy wise, given the economic benefits to APS of on-site (rooftop), solar? Consider:
Investments in solar reduce the need for APS to build and operate new power plants.
On-site solar is a hedge against nuclear plant shutdowns (like San Onofre plant in southern California). Solar power generation is a grid insurance policy for all APS customers.
Electricity, which is produced from burning coal hundreds of miles away (at Navaho Generating Station), dissipates as it travels. On-site solar power, which is used where it is produced, eliminates this waste by not traveling across the grid.
Each year, APS must spend money to upgrade many circuits which are reaching capacity due to growth. Local solar power generation on these circuits postpones the need to spend this money.
The environmental costs of burning coal include the production of green house gasses and pollutants such as mercury. And power plants require vast amounts of water to cool their operations. Solar power generation mitigates these environmental costs.
Solar generation helps APS to meet Arizona's Renewable Energy Standard requirements. APS is required to procure renewable generation equal to 10 percent of sales by 2020. When APS customers make personal investments in solar power, APS avoids the costs of building and owning future renewable power plants.
Rooftop solar systems reduce the risk of outages due to transmission or distribution system failures, which interrupts service for APS customers.
Rooftop solar installations produce more local jobs than distant coal generation. This local job creation enhances local tax revenues.
Perhaps APS is unfairly discounting the many benefits of distributed rooftop solar generation.