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Why Utility-Owned Rooftop Solar Is So Controversial

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Should regulated utilities be allowed to own and rate-base residential solar?

It’s a polarizing question. On the one hand, supporters say utility-owned rooftop solar will increase access to clean energy, while reducing strain on the grid and saving money for all ratepayers. On the other, opponents say utility rooftop solar programs are expensive and unfair, viewing them as veiled efforts to capitalize on a growing market that threatens the traditional utility business model.

This debate is currently playing out in Arizona, where regulators recently approved plans for Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power to own limited amounts of residential solar. These plans have been met with passionate opposition from solar industry advocates who see this as a way for monopolies to crush third-party competition.

Arizona is unlikely to be an isolated case. Can the disputes be resolved?

Power industry experts wrestled with these questions on stage at Greentech Media’s recent Solar Summit in Phoenix, Arizona. In the first episode of Rewired -- a video series on important developments in the cleantech industry -- we give a breakdown of the utility-owned rooftop solar debate.

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