Solar Businesses Speak Out Against Arizona's New Fee
The newly passed fee for Arizona Public Service (APS) customers who will make solar installations after Dec. 31 isn't going over very well.
The largest solar installer in the state is lowering its prices in an attempt to offset the effects of the fee, while another company has already closed its doors and will file for bankruptcy, according to the Arizona Republic.
“There is no way we can stay in business,” Lane Garrett, co-owner of Dependable Solar Products, said of his company, which employed 30 people before the closure.
“Small businesses can no longer compete. That is the bottom line.”
That sentiment might be the reality for Arizona's solar industry after state regulators approved a fee expected to average about $5 per month for the typical home with a solar installation. Following the approval, Lyndon Rive, founder and CEO of SolarCity Corp., decided to lower prices to make his service more attractive to people who were likely put off by the sweeping approval.
Rive told Arizona Republic that the average SolarCity customer saves $5 to $10 each month by reducing their power bill enough to offset a monthly lease payment. Other companies that offer solar panels report that customers save more than $100 a month on their power bills and that it takes about eight and a half years to pay off the purchase price of the panels with the utility savings.
At 70 cents per kilowatt of capacity, the new $5 monthly fee will either wipe out the savings potential for many new leasing customers or extend the payback period for those who buy panels.
Over a 30-year-term, SolarCity will now earn about $1,800 less from each lessee, Rive said.
A smaller utility, SRP, is also considering a fee, but has yet to make a proposal.
"The only way you can take these hits is if you continue to invest in the market and scale [up] the organization,” Rive said. “For those companies who don't, you can only cut costs to a certain level and then you run out of ways to cut costs.
"Some solar companies are going to really struggle with this.”
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At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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