The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) has approved Tucson Electric Power's (TEP) plan to install rooftop solar panels at customers' homes and provide their electric service for a set monthly fee that would remain fixed for up to 25 years.
Beginning in spring 2015, TEP says it will seek up to 600 participants in areas where the solar arrays would maximize benefits for the local electric grid. System size requirements, proximity to the grid and opportunities to integrate advanced inverter technologies will be considered. TEP will also look for sites where solar panels can be positioned to maximize output that more closely coincides with peak demand.
TEP will partner with local solar companies to install and maintain the systems and will own them as well.
The utility says it will impose a $250 administrative fee and a fixed monthly rate that roughly matches a participating customer's current electric bill. The fixed monthly fee paid by program participants will be based on their average historic energy usage. TEP says it will not change the fee unless customers' average annual usage changes by more than 15% after joining the program.
The ACC could change the fee in the future, but participating customers could choose to withdraw from the program at that time if the new fee is applied to them. Otherwise, the fee would remain in place for the 25-year expected life of the solar power system.
A number of solar companies have opposed TEP's residential solar program, claim it is too restrictive and anti-competitive.