Saving Solar in Arizona

Brett in AZ

Net energy metering – a policy that allows homeowners and businesses to produce their own solar energy and to sell excess power back in to the grid – has helped to make sunny Arizona a national leader in solar power generation.  It’s a win-win policy that is both working for consumers and helping to secure America’s clean energy future.

Despite broad support for net metering, in early 2013 the policy came under attack when the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) – the body that regulates public utilities in the state – opened the docket for debate, intending to gut the policy.  At stake was Arizona’s growing solar industry and potentially thousands of good jobs.

On the anti-solar side, the utility companies engaged in corrupt tactics to stack the deck and poured millions into an anti-solar ad campaign.  But on the pro-solar side, Operation Free swung in to action and activated its network of Arizona veterans in support of secure, local solar power.  Our veterans conducted individual outreach to ACC Commissioners, press conferences, opinion pieces, letters to the editor, social media and agency briefings.

In November 2013, Operation Free member and Marine Corps Iraq veteran Rome Hall publicly testified in front of the ACC in support of net metering.  While dozens of activists – from environmentalists to Tea Party supporters – came forward to testify, Hall was able to offer a unique, national security perspective that resonated with the conservative-leaning commission:

“As an Engineer in the Marine Corps in Iraq, I saw a country crippled by energy poverty and intermittent power, which fed the instability I was there to combat….  Net metering not only encourages the military to increase its solar footprint but it also stimulates private investment from citizens to produce secure and local solar power – making Arizona’s energy supply cleaner, safer, and more resilient.”

After a long campaign, on November 14th – by a vote of 3-2 – the ACC upheld the current net metering policy with only one minor change representing a huge victory for clean, homegrown power in Arizona.

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