Competing solar ballot initiatives withdrawn in Arizona

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Arizona has long been a key battleground for the future of U.S. solar. Once one of the largest rooftop solar markets, in 2013 the state was the first to allow utilities to implement charges on their customers who install PV systems.??

This decision was highly controversial both inside and outside the state, and as a “red” state Arizona saw the rise of one of the first organizations of politically conservative solar advocates under Tell Utilities Solar Won’t be Killed (TUSK). And since that time, Arizona utilities have made multiple other efforts to weaken the state’s net metering policy, which has led to high-profile conflicts in the state’s otherwise boring regulatory body.

Yesterday the long battle over distributed solar policies took another turn, with a solar advocates backed by SolarCity and legislators agreeing to drop rival ballot measures in a negotiated truce. In an evening press conference, Arizona State Senator Debbie Lesko (R) announced that she and State Senator John Shooter (R) would withdraw bills to create ballot initiatives that could have affected the solar industry.

Senator Lesko’s bill would have allowed voters to lower the rate of compensation for net metering, instead of having that decision made through a regulatory process by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). Senator Shooter’s bill would have given voters the option to have solar leasing companies regulated by the ACC as utilities.

In exchange, the SolarCity-backed Yes on AZ Solar group has agreed to drop its ballot initiative to enshrine a right to net metering in the state constitution, including measures to prevent utilities for implementing discriminatory fees on solar customers. This deal was mediated by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R).

“Governor Ducey and legislative leadership created a space for a peaceful resolution, and we appreciate APS’ willingness to come to the table and find a solution that works for everyone, and that gives stability to one of the world’s best distributed solar industries,” states SolarCity Director of Communications Will Craven.