New Republican, Business Organization Forms To Save Solar in Arizona

T.U.S.K.: Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed
Group chairman Barry Goldwater Jr.: ‘Republicans want the freedom to make the best choice and the competition to drive down rates’ 

(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) — A new force is organizing to ensure solar remains viable in Arizona. To show backing for the solar industry and to stave off attempts by Arizona Public Service to extinguish the independent rooftop solar energy market in Arizona, a new organization has announced its formation, T.U.S.K.—Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed. It will be dedicated to keeping the solar industry in Arizona and help the state’s business owners, homeowners and schools to keep their energy costs lower and to provide more energy choice for state taxpayers.

T.U.S.K. will work to educate the public about the threats posed by the efforts of the utility monopoly. If the threats come to fruition, thousands of jobs in Arizona will be lost. In fact, a recent study by Elliot D. Pollack & Associates found that the solar industry has created 16,000 jobs for Arizonans.

Like school choice and health care choice, solar choice holds great promise for Arizona, and should be an important part of the Republican agenda, according to well-known Arizona Republican and former U.S. Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr.

Goldwater, who is supporting T.U.S.K. and its efforts, said: “As a son of Arizona, I know we have no greater resource than our sun. Republicans want the freedom to make the best choice and the competition to drive down rates. That choice may mean they save money and with solar that is the case. Solar companies have a track record of aggressively reducing costs in Arizona. It’s crucial that we don’t let solar energy—and all its advantages and benefits it provides us—be pushed aside by those wanting to limit energy choice. That’s not the Republican way and it’s not the American way. Energy independence is what we should all stand up for and that’s what I intend to encourage.”

Goldwater served 14 years in Washington and amassed expertise in energy, the space program, aviation and defense and government procurement. Goldwater was particularly instrumental in all facets of energy policy and research and development, including authoring the Solar Photovoltaic Act. Besides serving as chairman of the new organization, Goldwater will be advising the group on policy, politics and engage in substantial outreach for the solar industry.

T.U.S.K. also believes that rooftop solar is similar to a charter school—it provides a competitive alternative to the monopoly. Monopoly utilities aren’t known for reducing costs or for driving business innovation, but the Arizona solar industry is. Solar companies have a track record of aggressively reducing costs in Arizona. The more people use rooftop solar, the less power they need to buy from the utilities. Energy independence for Arizonans means smaller profits for the utilities.

T.U.S.K. backs net metering, a successful policy in 43 states that gives property owners fair credit for the solar they deliver to the grid. Net metering is the latest target by APS to curtail competition. In simple terms, it’s like the rollover minutes on your cell phone bill. Net metering is one of the most important policy tools that elected officials have to empower homes, businesses, schools, and public agencies to invest private capital to install solar on their property. Eliminating net metering would amount to a tax hike on hundreds of Arizona schools that are saving millions of dollars by installing solar to decrease their electric bills. Local taxpayers would be left to pick up the tab if schools are no longer able to save this money. It also will waste energy being generated by the rooftop systems.

The state’s leading providers of rooftop solar are backing the organizational efforts with pending support from a diverse coalition upset at what APS is attempting to convince the Arizona Corporation Commission to do.

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