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New home solar rates to go up

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(Source: CBS 5 News) (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

The battle over the future of solar energy in Arizona took another turn Thursday.

The Arizona Corporation Commission voted 3-2 in favor of raising rates on new home solar customers.

New home solar customers will see an increase of about $5 on their monthly utility bill.

Arizona Public Service had asked for the rate hike, claiming that home solar customers are getting a free ride by not paying for some maintenance costs that have been passed on to non-solar users.

The $5 fee hike is significantly less than the $50 to $100 increase that APS originally asked for.

Solar companies had argued that any rate increase would have a negative impact on the solar industry.

"The fact that the ACC outright rejected the APS proposal and implemented something much smaller, shows that APS is on the wrong side of history," said Meghan Nutting, with Solar City.

Hundreds of solar industry supporters attended an ACC public hearing Wednesday, to urge commissioners not to increase rates on home solar customers.

On Thursday, the debate heated up even further with attorneys for APS and the solar industry pleading their cases in front of the Commission.

ACC chairman Bob Stump said their goal was to reach a compromise that was fair to both sides.

"The commission is interested in insuring that solar has a bright future in Arizona," said Stump. "But we are also interested in all rate payers getting a fair deal."

APS spokesman Jim McDonald said that the ACC decision fell short of what is needed to create fairness for all APS customers.

"These costs will have to be addressed," said McDonald. "We took a step today, but the step was too small. This is just going to become tougher to resolve."

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