Community Power | An Experiment in Utility-Owned Solar and Wind Distributed Generation

The Community Power Project

UPDATE: 2:20 PM MT, 3/3/10: The ACC has put off a vote on the project described below, until the next open meeting — March 31-April 1.

A first-of-a-kind plan by Arizona’s largest utility (APS), to create a “community power project” in Flagstaff is before the Arizona Corporation Commission today.

Coconino County Supervisor Carl Taylor spoke in favor of the program, saying that it was a perfect fit for the county’s plan for sustainable, clean energy. Flagstaff Mayor Sara Pressler has also been an early and enthusiastic backer of the plan.

Solar and Wind

Under the plan being considered, APS will pay for, and own, rooftop PV arrays on roughly two-hundred homes in the Flagstaff area, rooftop solar water heating systems for fifty homes and “a handful” of small scale wind turbines. The customers will lock-in a rate for their electricity for twenty years. All of the homes in the program are on a single feeder system and will have smart meters so that the effects of the system can be tracked.

While mostly supporting the pilot program, some solar companies with their own financing programs spoke at today’s hearing, raising concerns about potential problems in the future having to compete with a giant utility.

Commission chair Kris Mayes told them she understood their concerns, but felt that since the program will only serve 200 homes, it should not have a large effect on competing companies. “If this [program] were for 10,000 homes, I would certainly agree with you,” Mayes told one speaker.

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