Thursday, June 18, 2015

High school student blasts TEP for its opposition to solar power


Larissa Diaz gets it. TEP is against net metering but is for pollution from its coal-fired plants. Here are snippets from her op-ed piece in the Daily Star.

Learning about the latest proposal from Tucson Electric Power to the Arizona Corporation Commission to raise prices on rooftop solar has made me realize, once again, that the working-class citizens and the growing Mexican-American community is being left behind when policies are being considered.

In a proposal to the Corporation Commission, TEP would take energy produced by new solar rooftop customers, paying them less than 6 cents per kilowatt-hour while selling it to other customers for about 13 cents. Rooftop solar customers would no longer have the ability to “bank” the excess energy produced when usage is low and use it when usage is high. Working-class families may well be “priced out” of owning their own solar panels.

TEP has pledged to end coal burning at Sundt by 2018. However, the company wants to keep burning coal at the San Juan plant near Farmington, New Mexico. Continued operation of the San Juan plant will cost about $1 billion more than anticipated. TEP ratepayers will bear a significant portion of these costs.

I am asking TEP to divest from the San Juan plant to help reduce pollution and health problems. Does the health of one community supersede the health of another?

TEP’s net metering tariff will jeopardize a significant portion of the 9,170 solar workers in Arizona, (according to the Solar Foundation’s State Solar Jobs Census 2014) and other local clean energy jobs. Arizona created 600 new jobs in the solar industry last year alone, a job rate growth of 7.2 percent.

As a student, I believe it is extremely important to speak out about these issues, especially at my age, when my opinion is often overlooked. I believe everyone has a voice, especially if it is going to affect our community in drastic ways.

When money is looked at as more important than the health of others and the health of the Earth, there is a huge problem that needs to be addressed. Society is advancing so quickly and we are making so many improvements that we must be forthright and purposeful to not move backward into the cycle of profit over people and planet.

Another way of casting Larissa's remarks is as a plea to TEP to become part of the solution, not to remain part of the problem. I know I am missing some of her points, so do read her entire op-ed.

The Star does a good service by providing instructions on how To comment on solar rates.
To make your voice heard on this issue, write the Arizona Corporation Commission and reference docket No. E-01933A-15-0100. The public hearing is not yet scheduled, but you can sign up to receive notice here.

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