Because of the fee, 65-year-old Thorne says it’ll take almost two decades to pay back her panels.
“Yes,” she says and laughs, “I may not be alive.”
Green energy groups say this solar fee is a key reason why, according to Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association, Alabama comes in 48th out of 50 states in residential solar capacity. (North Dakota and South Dakota trail Alabama).
Alabama Power currently imposes a $5 per kilowatt monthly “capacity reserve charge” on solar and other types of distributed generation. This charge affects not only rooftop solar and residential customers, but also small businesses and schools who rely in part on solar installations to offset the energy they consume and buy from Alabama Power.
This particular fixed charge for rooftop solar not only unfairly burdens Alabama Power customers who install rooftop solar, but also reduces up to 50 percent of the savings customers could enjoy by going solar. Similar, prohibitive fixed charges for rooftop solar have been proposed, approved or rejected across the U.S. To add insult to injury, the Alabama Public Service Commission’s (PSC) approved the Alabama Power fixed charge in January 2013 without any public input or justification.