Net Metering: A Win-Win For Everyone

I was quite surprised by the spirited and even vociferous response to last week’s post regarding the issue of net metering and solar energy competition in Arizona. It even captured the attention of several members of the Arizona Corporation Commissioner who made their objections indirectly know to me and those following the debate over APS’ effort to bring about an end to net metering. From conservative, liberal and independent ideologues, the online comments, posts, emails and calls were remarkably supportive of consumer choice.

In case you missed it, subsidies to the solar industry are ending in Arizona over the next few months. For taxpayers, that’s a good thing. But I would also argue the ACC policymaking doesn’t go far enough. Republicans should be just as vehement about ending other energy subsidies, regardless of the source, which will ultimately usher in a thriving and more competitive energy market.

Many, like me, are trying to understand why a state rich in abundant sunshine is finding resistance in securing energy choice among those who were elected on a platform of competition and choice?

Republicans have long held that choice, diversity and competition in the energy marketplace moves us toward energy independence, wise stewardship of the environment and consumer freedom and sustainability. Choice in education is a prime example of this very philosophy that has brought student achievement and parental involvement. Why would we not apply the same logic toward energy policy?

In fact, here is what the 2012 Republican Party Platform – updated last August – says about the Republican vision on energy:

Unlike the current Administration, we will not pick winners and losers in the energy marketplace. Instead, we will let the free market and the public’s preferences determine the industry outcomes. In assessing the various sources of potential energy, Republicans advocate an all-of-the-above diversified approach, taking advantage of all our American God-given resources. That is the best way to advance North American energy independence. 

We encourage the cost-effective development of renewable energy, but the taxpayers should not serve as venture capitalists for risky endeavors. It is important to create a pathway toward a market-based approach for renewable energy sources and to aggressively develop alternative sources for electricity generation such as wind, hydro, solar, biomass, geothermal, and tidal energy. Partnerships between traditional energy industries and emerging renewable industries can be a central component in meeting the nation’s long-term needs. Alternative forms of energy are part of our action agenda to power the homes and workplaces of the nation.

As a result of the feedback of last week’s opinion piece, I feel it necessary to expand and even advocate for a recalibration on an inconsistent Republican policy makers hold on this topic.

Yes, the GOP has been a steadfast and principled advocate for free market policies – especially when it comes to stopping the spread of the healthcare industrial complex known as Obamacare or the vast left-wing manipulation of public education. We argue with passion that we need more health care choices. We argue for charter schools and tuition tax credits.

So why then would we allow the elimination of consumer-based choice in the form of alternative energy options by policy makers in league with the monopolistic maneuvers of utility corporations?

Please don’t misunderstand me when it comes to the whole issue of corporate welfare and subsidies to certain pockets of the energy marketplace. I fully oppose government poking its nose in the role of picking winners and losers, eliminating consumer choice all at the expense of taxpayers.

That’s why I argue the point of protecting net metering – a policy that allows consumers to produce their own energy with the excess amount to be supplied back to “the grid” a win-win for everyone.

Some time within the next 90 days, APS is expected to push the Arizona Corporation Commission to eliminate this practice thus taking away the primary mechanism and incentive for taxpaying consumers to pursue energy sustainability and efficiency. This makes no sense at all other than re-erecting a barrier of protection for utility monopolies.

Will opinions like this continue to provoke fierce debate between those vying to consume, provide and blur the distinction between both roles? That’s guaranteed. But let’s remember one thing. Our state Constitution was written to protect the rights of Arizonans. With the right Republican leadership in place, energy choice, independence and consistency can thrive in Arizona.

Let the debate continue!


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