APS Denies Funding Solar-Installer Attack Ad That It Likes

Categories: Solar Energy

APS isn't funding a campaign by a Virginia conservative group that attacks solar-power installers, a utility spokesman says.

But that doesn't mean the company doesn't appreciate the hard-hitting ad that has generated 145,000 views on YouTube.

"We're happy they support our point of view," says Jim McDonald of APS about the group, the 60 Plus Association.

See also:
-An Epic Battle Between Solar Firms and Power Utilities Could Leave One Side Unplugged

In the ad, posted July 2 on YouTube, 60 Plus takes the side of APS in the debate over how to compensate the utility's customers who have solar panels and blasts SolarCity and SunRun as the "new Solyndras."

We covered the debate over the current compensation plan, called net metering, in last week's cover story (see above link).

On Friday, APS filed the anticipated request with the Arizona Corporation Commission to essentially pay less to new customers who install solar panels. The five-member commission -- all Republicans -- is expected to vote on the request this year following public hearings.

Sean Noble, GOP political consultant who's done business with the Virginia conservative group 60 Plus Association, also works as a consultant for APS.
As our story explained, solar users are paid -- roughly at retail rates -- by APS for the power they generate. The plan was developed a few years ago as another way to lend support to the fledgling solar-power industry. But the company says solar users reduce their bills so much that they don't pay their fair share of upkeep and maintenance of the power grid.

The increasing number of solar customers means that more grid costs are being shifted to non-solar users, APS says, resulting in higher rates for the rest of the customers. Some believe the the trend could someday result in serious damage to the utility companies' business model.

Companies that install solar-power systems, meanwhile, worry they might go out of business if fewer people will sign up for solar because they aren't paid well enough for the electricity they create.

Jason Rose, a Republican political consultant whose lawyer wife counts solar-power installers among her clients, is the frontman for a small group of Republicans including Barry Goldwater Jr., who's been blasting APS for supposedly lying to the public and being greedy. They say net metering benefits rather than hurts non-solar APS customers.

The utility has fired back with its own rhetoric, most notably in the form of op-ed articles by Don Brandt, the CEO of APS, and other utility representatives.

But Rose's group, TUSK, (for Tell Utilities Solar won't be Killed), now charges that APS is using "third parties to do its dirty work."

Sean Noble, a paid lobbyist and consultant for Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, APS' parent company, also works with 60 Plus Association.

Rose's complaints aside, the multiple hats worn by Noble, a GOP political consultant himself, raise a legitimate question of what, if anything, APS had to do with the 60 Plus ad.

APS spokesman McDonald says the utility did not pay for the ad or help produce it in any way; nor does APS donate to 60 Plus.

APS isn't interested in politicizing the issue as Rose has, McDonald says.

"But going forward, we would certainly support organizations that share our position on important customer issues," he says.

McDonald could not confirm, however, whether Noble considered the ad -- if it is indeed Noble's handiwork -- as part of his duties as APS/Pinnacle West consultant and lobbyist. McDonald says he hasn't talked to Noble about it.

Noble did not return calls to Arizona Republic reporter Ryan Randazzo for his Friday article on the subject. Noble also failed to return New Times' calls on Monday.

We're used to people not returning our calls on this issue. As last week's story related, Rose referred our questions about anti-APS material on the Arizona Foothills Magazine's online site to the mag's editor, Michael Dee, who never called us back. We've repeatedly tried to get in touch with Goldwater Jr., but he won't return our calls, either.

APS may not want to politicize the issue, as McDonald says, but it seems to be a political issue regardless, since the corporation commission members are politicians whose ultimate decision on the issue may try to take into account what the public thinks.

Members of TUSK, including Goldwater Jr. and other solar advocates, were expected to hold a news conference this morning at the State Capitol to "stand against the deep-pocketed sneak attacks APS has waged against solar energy," according to a TUSK news release.

Thing is, there are deep pockets on both sides. And solar installers have a clear and acute financial interest in the outcome of the net metering debate.

Electric customers can only hope the outcome of this impending showdown is one that benefits them the most -- in terms of reliability, cost and public health.

UPDATE: APS Didn't Mean to Lie to New Times on Funding of Anti-Solar Ads, Spokesman Says

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Cozz topcommenter

APS is a total rip off, this year, as their comparison to last years usage I get shows, I'm using less but paying more.

Greedy bastards is what they are.

Flyer9753 topcommenter

If I put in Solar, enough to power my home and sell my excess back to the grid... why should I have to pay for grid maintenance??? I'm not using the grid, I don't need to grid so why should I have to pay for the grid that I don't use?

Before anyone says I am using it, since I sell to the grid... Palo Verde does not pay to maintain it's lines to get power to those that buy it, those that buy the power pay to maintain those lines, not the seller..

I built a power plant at  home, you want to purchase the power from it via the utility company, you can pay to cart that power from my generating facility (solar panels) to your house via the grid..... 

don't want to pay for that... don't buy my power.


Maybe, Ray, if you weren't so obviously anti-solar, you could get some of those guys to return your calls... just sayin'.


Sounds like APS has identified as nice little scheme for itself. ;)

ExpertShot topcommenter

 @AuH20The vast majority of people who work for APS and the solar installers make below $50,000.00 a year.  Like the rest of our society, the .001% of people on these companies makes over that and it's like REALLY a lot over $50,000.00.  However, we can't help how Capitalism works now can we (well, Canada seems to have a handle on it, but I digress).  The point is that we need Renewable Energy (including photovoltaics) for this planet's long term sustainability and we don't need fossil fuels for the long haul.  It should be obvious to anyone with a brain that decentrailzed power distribution through renewable energy, in combination with hydrogen fuel cell technology is the best alternative for our survival on this planet to allow the most flexibility and freedom for our citizens.  Everyone who reads this needs to understand that point and not get distracted by minutia of rate hearings - if the Republicants won't do it, we need the Dems to do it.  Lead, follow or get out of the way!



Over and over, people are tying the subject of this ad to the ongoing net metering battle, but they are not related at all. Technically, this ad is simply speaking negatively of Sun Run and SolarCity. It makes no reference whatsoever to how utilities compensate customers with solar panels. Relating the two relatively unrelated topics is wrong. I am extremely pro solar for Arizona, but I also agree with the content of this ad. Sun Run and SolarCity are ripping off the government and their customers but that has nothing to do with how APS compensates their solar customers. I am against the new proposed APS changes, but I am in agreement with this advertisement. They have nothing to do with one another.


Oh please...I could care less about APS' bottom line (I'm tired of paying $250+ for electricity a month, but that's what I get for living in AZ), but for Rose and his group to pretend they're the little guy and fighting the big bad corporate monopoly is laughable. Companies like Solyndra, Solar City, etc., receive millions of dollars in stimulus funding and are milking American taxpayers for subsidies, and then want to cry about it when their profit model gets squeezed. No pity for either side. The best part is that Barry Goldwater Jr., the only remaining relative of the conservative / libertarian icon, is pimping for the Left. Now that's rich.


@Flyer9753 If you put in solar and it creates enough energy to power your home, then there would be no need for you to be hooked into the grid in the first place.  Unhook and go about your business.

ray.stern moderator

@arizonaeagletarian You make me laugh, Steve. I'm not "anti-solar," first off. It has its uses. But secondly, the story makes it clear that Sean Noble didn't return my calls, either. 

Flyer9753 topcommenter


BTW - if YOU don't want to buy my power and therefore pay to maintain the grid that connects me to you, that is fine.

But then your argument is not with me, the provider of the power, it's with the other power company customers who are buying solar generated power and are not paying for the delivery costs associated with that power themselves, instead making you pay a portion of it.

That's between you and those APS/SRP customers, not with me the power provider. 

Aim better next time.

Flyer9753 topcommenter

@yourproductsucks @Flyer9753  

Sure there is, it's called Demand, which obvisouly there is demand to buy my power, since it is being bought.

Per your logic, I guess Palo Verde should unplug and go about their business right? 

You don't want my power, fine, don't buy it, but since my power keeps getting bought every month obviously there is a demand for the power I generate and those that buy that power can pay for it to be delivered to them.


@yourproductsucks @Flyer9753 But the power they sell back to APS is used BY APS to help power other users.  It's essential expanding the grid itself and having a small portion that APS doesn't have to maintain.

APS just wants to maintain its bottom line by vilifying those who put up the expense for solar panels and who they don't make any money from.


@Flyer9753 For the sake of civility, I will ignore your obvious embellishment and ask this,

If the Power comany is purchasing the power from you at retail and is then selling it to "two more houses" at the same price they purchased it, where is the benefit to the power company? 

You are foolishly thinking they are there for the sole purpose of providing a free conduit for you store your unused energy?  Without the grid, you'd lose that energy and have no electricity in the evenings and much less energy on cloudy days.  Truth is, you need the grid.  Unless you are storing your unused energy yourself. But that's not happening.

Flyer9753 topcommenter


Oh Bullshit, power companies are not 'doing me a favor' by purchasing my power, that's like saying McDonalds is doing people a favor by selling burgers and fries - ever heard of supply and demand?

If the power companies did not want my cheap power, they would not buy it, plain and simple, no on is doing anyone else any favors.

What I send back into the grid is enough to power 2 additional homes since I have that much solar capacity, as well as the aspects of the power company not having to run additional plants during higher load times, which is costly and inefficient since those plants only run a few hours a day during the high load times

If anyone is doing anyone any favors, it's me investing in solar so you and the grid can have cheap clean power

"without government incentives solar is a bust" another bullshit statement by the resident idiot but it's not worth the effort to correct you, since it's clear to all that you are not intelligent enough to understand the big/complete picture in the first place


@Flyer9753 Power Companies are doing you a favor by "purchasing" your unused energy.  What is going into the grid from residential solar cells is meaningless...Truth is, they are currently paying retail prices on energy from solar users because they have been incentivized to do so...That gravy train will soon come to an end.  You are dilusional if you think your power is necessary when they are buying and selling the same kilowatt at the same price.

If unused power wasnt "purchased" by utility companies, the cost incentive to go solar would be miniscule and only those who are fanatical green machines would use solar.  Without Government Incentives, solar is a bust.


@TaxpayingVoter Of course they want to maintain the bottom line.  They are a business.  I don't like what they are attempting any more than anyone else does. 

I like the idea of saving money in utilities any way I can.  I am researching solar as an option for my family and researching the most cost effective and reasonable manner in which to approach it.  I don't have APS as a utility provider, but I realize that SRP will follow APS's lead on this.

My point to flyer is that if you are truly off-the-grid, then there is no need to be plugged into the grid in the first place.  Truth is, unless you are storing your own energy, you remain beholden to the Electric Company.

ray.stern moderator

I should have said "smile." Laugh sounds too harsh.

Nobel, Goldwater Jr and Dee still haven't called back...

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