Arizona has seen some of the hottest solar growth in the country since 2010, but also some of the hottest debates about how utilities can and should manage distributed generation.
Despite recent public turmoil regarding he future of rooftop solar in Arizona, the state installed a record 701 megawatts of new solar capacity in 2013 and ranks second in the country for installed solar capacity with more than 1,900 megawatts as of early 2014.
While much of Arizona’s solar capacity comes from utility-scale projects in the desert that supply electricity to Arizona and California cities, a growing number of home and business owners are putting solar panels on their roofs and properties. The cost of an installed rooftop solar system dropped 14 percent between 2012 and 2013, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. That’s almost twice the price decrease the rest of the nation saw.
While Arizona has been in the spotlight for political debates resulting from the largest utility in the state campaigning for measures that would reduce the economic viability of net meter, Arizona has strong policies and incentives supporting increased solar adoption.
The state’s renewable portfolio standard mandates utilities to get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2025. Of that, 30 percent must come from distributed generation on homes and businesses.
Tax credits and rebates are available to property owners who upgrade or maintain renewable energy sources. One such program is Arizona’s Energy Equipment Property Tax Exemption, which has recently come under fire. So far, it has survived.
Many utilities in Arizona offer rebates or payback programs to customers who install solar or wind equipment on their properties. Depending on the rebate program, the utility may reimburse the system based on how many kilowatt hours the system is anticipated to produce over a 20 year lifespan. The utility will use those calculations to determine what the rebate for a system is. However, reimbursement funds are limited, so its a good idea to check with both solar installers and local utilities to determine what current rebates are. Installers will also help home or business owners understand how much they can expect in incentives and rebates.
(Updated September, 2014)