Tuscon Electric Power Proposes Changes to Solar Program

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Tuscon Electric Power wants to make changes to its renewables programs. Last month, they submitted a proposal to lower their reimbursement rates. This was withdrawn on the advice of the Arizona Corporation Commission, who recommended it be resubmitted with a comprehensive plan. This month the utility wants to do something completely different — expand their solar base.

That’s right, TEP has filed a new renewable energy plan that includes expanding its residential solar program by 1000 homeowners. There are already 500 households participating in the program. Last week, 200 spaces in the program were made available online. Those slots have already been filled.

In addition to the residential program, TEP is also proposing a residential community solar program. If approved, the utility would build a 5 MW system that would complement the existing Bright Tucson Community Solar Program.

Of course, there is still a price to be paid. TEP is proposing that the cost of the solar programs be covered through participants fees and future rates, and not through the Renewable Energy Standard Tariff (REST).

However, there are proposed REST increases, and they are steep. The surcharge would increase from the current 0.8 cents per kWh to 1.3 cents per kWh in 2016. The monthly cap for residential customers would increase from $3.76 to $4.56. TEP reports these charges will cover the cost of their renewable power portfolio, which currently stands at 330 MW.

The ACC is expected to review the proposal later this year.