Pinnacle West Capital has an eye on rooftop solar growth in Arizona

During a quarterly earnings conference call on July 31, Pinnacle West Capital (NYSE:PNW), the corporate parent of Arizona Public Service (APS), stressed its proposed plan for more utility-owned rooftop solar in the state.

APS has proposed to convert 20 MW of AZ Sun rooftop solar into APS-owned solar generation. The 20 MW would equate to roughly 3,000 customers, said Pinnacle West CEO Donald Brandt during the company’s second quarter earnings call.

AZ Sun is an APS program to develop up to 200 MW of solar photovoltaic plants across Arizona. Brandt explained to analysts, the company’s aggressive proposal for expanding rooftop solar.

Brandt was asked by an analyst about how the Arizona Commerce Commission might view the utility’s direct role in rooftop solar. “There is no upfront investment” by the homeowner. “We’ll handle the maintenance,” Brandt said.

The utility will also offer customers a $30/month bill credit for 20 years. This offer comes from a company that’s been around for more than 100 years. “Most of the others [solar providers] can’t claim that,” Brandt said.

Also many potential solar customers are currently locked out of the market because of insufficient resources to buy rooftop solar panels, Brandt said.

APS would be basically leasing the homeowner’s rooftop for 20 years, although the homeowner could cancel at any time, Brandt said.

The utility has 350 MW in distributed generation; 310 MW in power purchase agreements and 154 MW in AZ Sun program.

APS has a number of solar programs scheduled to go online in the near term in connection with the AZ Sun program, according to the company’s earnings materials.

The 32-MW Gila Bend project is scheduled to come online this summer. Two 10-MW projects in the City of Phoenix and Luke Air Force Base are both scheduled to come online in mid-2015.

As of June 30, over 26,800 residential grid-tied solar photovoltaic (PV) systems have been installed in APS’s service territory, the company said.

APS discusses nuclear, EPA, weather

The Palo Verde Unit 2 nuclear unit had a record refueling outage of less than 29 days, company officials said. It was the second sub-day refueling outage in plant history, the company said.

Pinnacle West officials also noted that the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) recently opened a regional emergency response center in Phoenix.

In reference to the EPA Clean Power Plan, company officials said the utility has already made much progress on carbon – including retirement of several coal units at the Four Corners power plant in New Mexico.

The company also noted that EPA has yet to carve out a CO2 reduction standard for tribal lands.

Despite warmer-than-normal weather patterns in the 2014 second quarter, last year’s second-quarter was slightly warmer than this year.

The average high temperature in the 2014 second quarter was 96.4 degrees F, while the average high temperature in the same period a year ago was 97.6 degrees. As a result, residential cooling degree-days (a measure of the effects of weather) were 9% lower than last year’s second quarter, but still 10% above normal, utility officials said.

Pinnacle reported consolidated net income attributable to common shareholders of $132.5m, or $1.19 per diluted share of common stock, for the quarter ended June 30. This result compares with earnings of $131.2m or $1.18 per share, in the same 2013 period. For both the 2014 and 2013 second-quarter periods, net income is the same as on-going earnings.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.