Should Private Companies Be Allowed to Sell Solar Energy?

Anything that has to do with solar and advancing the solar industry, I want to support. I really do. I’m a big believer that expanding Arizona’s footprint in the solar arena is going to help diversify our economy and hopefully assist us the next time we face a downturn. Aside from that, I feel alternative energy is just the right thing to do. A recent topic in the solar world is there are several Valley schools that would like to take advantage of federal stimulus money and install solar systems on their facilities. Over the next 15 years, utilizing solar energy to power the schools will save on estimated $4.7 million for the Scottsdale schools alone. Sounds great, right? Now here lies the rub. Unfortunately, schools, government agencies, and non-profits aren’t able to use the significant tax incentives that other businesses have access to. Without these incentives, many won’t be able to afford the solar systems. There is an initiative being proposed to the Corporation Commission by a California based solar company that has a presence in Arizona. This company wants to essentially serve as a middleman by taking advantage of the tax benefits and selling the energy to the schools for less than what they would pay their utility companies. I have mulled this over and tried to see it from both sides of the spectrum; however, I always come back to the same thought. Allowing a private company to essentially act as a utility broker is wrong. There are regulations in place by the Corporation Commission for a reason; yet, the solar company wants to be dismissed from these regulations. I wish the schools could take advantage of the same tax incentives as a private company, but I don’t think this is the way. If we make an exception for them, then when does it stop? Wouldn’t it make more sense to work towards passing a new bill that enables non-profits and government agencies to benefit from the tax incentives?

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