One of the features of our Mighty Efficient Remodel on the NW Green Home Tour (see opening article) is our solar panel system that we are slowly growing towards our goal of living in a net-zero home.

As solar power becomes more affordable and more common, utilities across the country are beginning to consider the full cost of providing services to customers with solar and whether the current system is financially sustainable.

According to John Finnegan on, win-win decision was recently made in Arizona, a state with rapid solar power growth. An article in the Daily Journal of Commerce shared that the Arizona Public Service had spent more than $3.7 million to convince the public that homeowners using solar panels are costing other customers money. Under the system they objected to, homeowners were able to sell excess power at full retail price back to APS in a process called “net metering”. This can cut bills by about two-thirds, but doesn’t allow the utility company to recover all of their costs including overhead and infrastructure.

In Arizona, the decision was made that individual homeowners with rooftop solar systems will pay higher costs for utility service (an average of $5 per month) but the increase is much lower than the amount sought by Arizona Public Service. The ruling is only a temporary fix, but is important because of the rapid growth of solar in the state and the fact that many other states and utilities are reviewing their net metering charges and incentives as solar grows.

Sustainability is about finding a balance between doing what is good for people, the planet, and the bottom line. A system that hurts utility companies while providing service to their community or that gouges individual homeowners for doing good by installing solar wouldn’t ultimately be sustainable in either case.

What do you think? Have you been considering solar but have questions? Come visit us during the Green Home Tour and chat with professionals from Artisan Electric with no obligation.