In 2014, both APS and TEP filed proposals to own rooftop solar on residential premises. After working with both utilities, the local solar industry association, and the ACC, RUCO was able to shape the programs in a way that maximizes the benefits and contains the costs. RUCO presented seven guidelines for utility participation in the market:
1. Cost parity: Utility-owned rooftop or other distributed generation should not cost more for all ratepayers than any cost shift or revenue loss from third-party owned solar.
2. A shared commitment, for utilities and solar companies, to provide accurate information and quality systems to all customers.
3. Fair interconnection policies for third party-owned systems
4. Shared responsibilities for grid safety and physical and economic resilience as issues arise with higher levels of solar penetration.
5. Rate designs that avoid gross over- or under compensation for customers with third-party owned systems.
6. Transparent sharing of non-confidential information between utilities and third party developers.
7. A utility focus on serving markets not optimally suited for third party developers.
In addition to those seven principles, both utilities will have an advisory board and a defined set of research goals.
With the above protections and guardrails in place, RUCO believes that these programs will offer customers more choice when it comes to cost effective solar energy. RUCO is looking forward to participating on the advisory boards and reviewing the cost and benefits of the programs as data streams in from the field.