Alabama Power doubles down, increases unjust solar charge

Mark Johnston, former director of Camp McDowell in Nauvoo, Alabama, stands in front of one of the camp’s solar panels, which are subject to Alabama Powers unjust solar fees. (© Emily Driscoll/SELC)

Rather than taking steps to open access to rooftop solar, Alabama Power has proposed to raise its unfair fees targeting rooftop solar customers, a move that could create an even more hostile environment for clean energy in Alabama.

In response to SELC’s complaint filed with the Alabama Public Service Commission in late April challenging Alabama Power’s monthly solar fees, Alabama Power has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, while simultaneously proposing to increase the charges in a separate informal rate docket.

Alabama Power not only wants to brush aside its customers' complaints about its punitive solar fees, it wants to increase those fees to make it even more difficult for solar customers to recover their investments,” said Katie Ottenweller, senior attorney and leader of SELC’s Solar Initiative. “This is yet another attempt by an entrenched monopoly to protect its profits at the expense of its customers. This is precisely why Alabama continues to lag so far behind other states in allowing its citizens to experience solar's benefits.”

SELC, on behalf of Gasp, and Ragsdale LLC, on behalf of two private Alabama citizens, have since opposed Alabama Power’s motion to dismiss and amended its initial complaint to include claims challenging the proposed fee increases.

The groups now seek to intervene in the informal rate docket, but request a suspension of that informal rate review pending the outcome of the original challenge.

Solar customers should have the right to raise concerns about the discriminatory fees in an open, transparent process, but Alabama Power is seeking to undermine that,” said Rev. Mark Johnston, former executive director of Camp McDowell and an Alabama Power customer subject to the charge. “And, to add insult to injury, the utility now proposes to increase the punitive fee. While other states reap the benefits of cheap solar power, Alabama remains closed for business.”

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