Column: Do your homework on solar power
I am very disturbed by the anti-solar article written by David Williams in a recent "Talk of the Town" entitled "Using Gloom and Doom to Sell Solar." In it, Mr. Williams, who is NOT an Arizona resident, referred to the annual 2.9 percent rate of increase used by solar leasing companies on certain Zero Down solar lease and purchase products. He argued that this is much higher than the residential utility rate increases have been over the last 23 years, which he states has been increasing at "less than 1.5 percent per annum (per year)."
Let us examine the facts. Rate increase history from APS is fully transparent and can be found on pg. 2 of the APS bill, under "News from APS." This clearly indicates the specifics of all APS rate increases, why it was implemented and contains a cost breakdown. In 2013, there were two rate increases - one in February and one in June. The February rate increase equaled $7 for every 1,100 kWh. The June rate increase equaled $1.18 for every 1,100 kWh or a total combined increase of $8.18 per month per 1,100 kWh.
There were four rate increases in 2014, which equaled $1.25 for every 1,100 kWh. So far, in 2015 there have been two rate increases, one in January and another in March for a combined increase of $3.58 per 1,100 kWh (in spite of a drop in oil prices of 50 percent). These combined increases over the past 2 1⁄4 years add up to $13 per month for every 1,100 kWh. For the typical person with a 2,200 kWh summer energy usage, that adds up to an extra $26.04/month.
Additionally, there have been large surprise APS rate increases such as 15 percent in 2007 and yet another 12.9 percent in 2009. Who knows what price increases are in store if the price of oil doubles and returns to the levels of 2013. Utility companies are very good at pointing out that their "electric rates" historically have not increased significantly, while burying increases in "meter fees," or other the numerous "surcharges" they have imposed from time to time.
I am a satisfied APS customer with a recently installed roof-mounted Full-Prepay leased solar system. I did significant research before choosing a national solar company and payment option. Contrary to what Mr. Williams would lead you to believe, reputable national solar companies do have $0 Down Lease plans that offer a 0 percent fixed lease cost, causing solar electric rates to be frozen for 20 years ... at a cost which is cheaper than the current rate from the electric company. If you do your research, and do not listen to false propaganda and choose a good national solar company, there is no reason why solar cannot be a wise investment and a hedge against future electric rate increases while protecting our environment.
Dr. F. Dennison Shaw Jr., is a 15 year resident of the Ranch of Prescott and a former college professor.