For the past 100 years, the Salt River Project has provided reliable, community based affordable water and power – as today’s Arizona Republic spot on editorial points out, they are also endeavoring to provide reliable community leadership on how to properly price customer based power generation, be that solar or other forms of renewable energy.
As the Arizona Republic accurately explains, the U.S Department of Energy has found that rooftop solar customers reduce utility revenues much more than they reduce expenses. With the rapid evolution of the energy and technology industries, it may be possible for customers some day to completely disconnect from the grid – but as of today, that is much more of a dream than a reality.
SRP’s pricing policy, which their elected Board will consider tomorrow, is an innovative and thoughtful approach to how to properly price consumer generated power and the customers’ continued reliance on the grid during their peak use times.
All electric utility providers have two tasks in common: they must generate enough quality power to meet peak demand times when most of their customers are returning to their homes in the early afternoon and evening hours and they must accomplish the first task in the most affordable manner possible.
Many rooftop solar arrays are not positioned (west facing), or in most cases, large enough to meet this peak demand time. Battery storage and other technologies may evolve to help bridge this gap, but for the time being, self-generating customers still rely on the grid to meet their peak energy demand.
SRP’s management has proposed an innovative pricing policy that attempts to separate the costs for energy and the cost of the network of infrastructure known as the grid.
The juvenile demagoguery being spouted by the rooftop solar industry and its supporters does a massive disservice to anyone trying to fairly and appropriately understand these very difficult public policy issues. As former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once said, “A good-catch-word can obscure analysis for fifty years.”
Holmes would surely get a good laugh if he heard the demagogic quotes from Barry Goldwater Jr. or his Twitter-happy friends at the Rose Law Group when they rant and rave about the future fate of solar.
The truth is the future of solar is very bright – once community based not for profit utilities like the Salt River Project can get the pricing right.
President Theodore Roosevelt, who signed the reclamation act creating the Salt River Project in 1903, would be proud that the managers and the elected officials of the Project are providing the same reliable leadership to its customers that he provided himself during his entire lifetime of service to our country.
There has been much change in Arizona as we’ve grown over the past century, but one of the few constants has been the Salt River Project. Their work to provide affordable water is one of the principal reasons that the Valley has grown into the economic hub it is today.
We applaud SRP’s leadership on this issue as they manage the opportunities presented by emerging technologies to reduce costs and promote long-term reliable power and water in the harsh desert environment we live in today.