Friday, December 12, 2014

Tucson Electric Power: APS’ Little Brother

Back in 1988 there was a movie called “Twins” Starring Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Well if APS is Arizona’s utility Schwarzenegger, then TEP is DeVito.

Arizona Public Service isn’t the only player on a plan to use captive ratepayer dollars to monopolize the rooftop solar industry. Tucson Electric Power has joined the chorus.

Even though the need for rooftop solar is currently being served by a competitive private sector market, Tucson Electric Power and Arizona Public Service are seeking permission from the Arizona Corporation Commission to use ratepayer funds to underwrite a rooftop solar program.

As regulated monopolies, TEP and APS have guaranteed profits. The utilities want to use those captive profits to drive competitors in the rooftop solar market out of business.

If this happens, private sector options and competition will vanish statewide, including in Tucson.

This jobs-killing plan has been making headlines in the Phoenix area but the debate in Tucson has been more subdued.
Maybe it’s because TEP doesn’t have APS’ lust for as much dark money and deceit. But it’s learning fast from its big brother to the north.

Make no mistake, TEP shares APS’ goal of driving energy competition out of business. TEP itself has claimed that the main purpose of offering rooftop solar is to provide a monopoly controlled choice to customers, competing both directly with the private market.

Why else would it want to pump ratepayer dollars into the rooftop solar market which is being well served by the private sector? In fact, there are many companies competing for that business. What will happen to pricing once TEP controls the market?

Many thought TEP was above the dirty tricks employed by APS. It was hoped that TEP valued its reputation. In partnering with APS on a plan that would undermine rooftop solar, TEP is demonstrating it’s willing and able to employ the same untoward tactics we have come to expect from its big brother, APS.

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