The solar financier and installer chaired by Elon Musk, SolarCity, has filed a lawsuit in Arizona federal court claiming that the Arizona utility Salt River Project is using anti-competitive practices to maintain a monopoly around energy and solar power and unfairly block competition.
Last week the board of directors of Salt River Project approved a new monthly average $50 “demand charge” fee for solar customers that live in the utility’s footprint. The charge is based on their peak energy use, and all solar customers would have to pay the fee even if the amount of solar energy that they produce on their roofs offsets the amount of energy they take from the grid. Most solar panel rooftop systems aren’t connected to batteries, so solar customers still use grid power at night or during non-sunny days.
The utility says the new monthly fee is fair because it needs to maintain the grid for these solar customers even if they are paying the utility less for energy. SRP says solar customers have a unique relationship with the grid and are actually shifting grid maintenance costs onto non-solar customers.
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