By Phoenix Business Journal

Arizona Public Service Co. will have a few more changes in its 2011 renewable energy standards plan after the Arizona Corporation Commission altered it Friday.

The ACC approved changes that would allow lower incentive rates for solar panels, and removed a proposed feed-in tariff pilot program, among the several changes.

The move alters APSâ¿¿ plan that initially was approved by the ACC in December amid a different commission. One seat changed as a result of the November election.

The changes were brought out by amendments proposed by Chairman Gary Pierce that in some ways mirror amendments he brought up in December that were not adopted.

Among the changes is allowing APS to use a $1 per watt installation incentive program that would allow people to jump to the head of the line to get the lower amount of funds.

Under the plan, APS offers $1.75 per watt to homeowners looking to install solar. The money is collected from a fee of up to $4.05 per month on homeowners.

APS has struggled to find a stable price point for its incentives, which were close to $3 a watt at this time last year. That higher incentive produced a run on systems, which pushed APS to cut back its in incentives once last year, with ACC approval, before eventually running out of funds in October.

In approving the lower incentive plan, the ACC also had APS hold back half of its money for marketing the renewable programs as a hedge against the utility running out of incentive funds by mid-year.

The ACC also backed the utility out of a planed small-scale feed-in tariff program for homeowners, while continuing to offer another program. Feed-in tariffs involve set amounts of money paid to producers of renewable energy so the power goes directly into the grid, rather than for use by a single home. The ACC also does not consider the program it allowed to continue to be a feed-in tariff.

The commission also allowed APS to continue to use its schools and government program, allowing the $6.8 million to help APS build and own solar properties, but said it did not believe it was in the public interest for APS to own any of those systems, saying there are other players in the market who can do that job. That program, however, will be limited only to rural schools.

The idea of a study to look at how water and energy are being used in the production of electricity was pushed off, under the proposals, to APSâ¿¿ next integrated resource planning filing, which is an annual event.

Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals

Copyright 2010