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April 25, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

APS and Solar Power

  |   Video
  • A new poll shows that Arizonans support solar energy and want choices beyond utility-provided energy. Mark Schiavoni, the senior Vice President of Operations for Arizona Public Service, and Jeff Guldner, senior Vice President of Customers & Regulation for APS, will respond to the poll’s results.
  • Mark Schiavoni - Executive Vice President of Operations, Arizona Public Service (APS)
  • Jeff Guldner - Senior Vice President of Customers & Regulation, Arizona Public Service (APS)
Category: Energy   |   Keywords: APS, energy, solar power,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: A recent poll shows widespread support for solar power and opposition to programs that limit choice for solar supporting energy consumers. Last week, we discussed the poll and heard criticism of APS regarding the future of solar energy. Tonight, we hear from Arizona Public Service. Joining me are Mark Schiavoni, executive vice president of operations for APS, and Jeff Guldner, APS senior vice-president for customers and regulation. Good to have you both here. Thanks for joining us.

Mark Schiavoni: Good to be here.

Jeff we'll start with you regarding this widespread support for solar choice and widespread opposition to some programs that APS seems to support. What do you see?

Jeff Guldner: Well, Ted, we know that our customers like and support solar energy. APS has been doing solar for 60 years. By the end of this year, we'll have 700 mega-watts of solar split between rooftop solar systems as well as large-scale solar plants like the one being built near Gila bend and smaller solar plants that APS owns. The issue we're really talking about is how to ensure that solar energy in Arizona is sustainable and part of that discussion involves a policy called net metering. It's one of the ways to subside size rooftop solar systems so it can be part of the energy mix in Arizona and that's really one of our strengths is we've got a diversified portfolio of nuclear, coal and natural gas as well as rooftop and larger-scale solar plants.

Ted Simons: Net metering, let's define it, that's basically where the rooftop customer basically sells power back to APS, correct?

Mark Schiavoni: That is correct.

Ted Simons: And what would be the problem here?

Mark Schiavoni: Well, the problem, it really is a cost issue. So you have a rooftop solar on your home. And you have a certain amount that your home consumes. If your system during that time frame generates more than what your home consumes, it goes back to the grid. When it goes back to the grid, you're being paid for that power going back to the grid and this is where the problem lies. You're not being paid for any of the wires, the transformers, the poles, the infrastructure for transferring that power back to the grid. You're not paying for us to be on standby, while you’re self-supplying, if something happens, you still need our power to flow to you. You're not disconnected from the grid and what's happening is that cost, those fixed costs for the wires, the poles, the transformers are being paid for by the customer that doesn't have it. That is cost shifting which is a subsidy.

Ted Simons: So the thing that is taking place, how do you balance that out when we have folks like we did last week basically saying that what you're trying to do there is you're killing rooftop solar in Arizona.

Jeff Guldner: You're not killing rooftop solar. We haven't proposed anything in terms of resolving it. What we've got right now is a situation where the customers who are putting the rooftop solar on can avoid all of the costs of that infrastructure and as Mark said the rooftop panels don't work without all of that infrastructure being there from the transmission system back to the power plant. And so if they're not paying for it, then other customers are paying for it. It becomes an issue of balance. I think it would be tragic in Arizona with our solar resources for us to have the equivalent of a housing bubble burst because we didn't understand the cost implications of a policy like that metering. We just want to understand that, talk to the stakeholders about it, see what a potential solution would be going forward that could help make that sustainable.

Ted Simons: What would a potential solution be?

Mark Schiavoni: The solutions that have come to the table, let's stop the bickering and throwing of stones and let's have a dialogue. The real problem in our -- from our perspective is you have to understand what the costs of all those services are and I think once all the customers understand the cost of supplying electricity, they'll understand that there's a way to solve this problem. It may be how you look at transmission, it may be some of the distributions, there's some place where you can find net metering. We believe in paying for the service that that customer's providing to another customer or to the grid.

Ted Simons: How do you balance out those added costs and the cost shifting now with future avoided costs provided more people go solar, less demand for power plants and such down the road? It seems like a lot of folks are going solar and the argument is that the more that go solar, the less they need APS, APS will take the hit, that's what we're hearing.

Jeff Guldner: That's really the question because right now, you're not removing any of the infrastructure once you put the solar panels on. You may avoid some future infrastructure and value that now and should the policy makers give a value, we don't do that when we construct the resource today. But what we know is the cost for the existing system is all here, it's not going away. So it's really then about fairly allocating that cost between customers who put rooftop panels on, may benefit us in the future and customers that don't.

Mark Schiavoni: It's a generation resource and you need to treat as a generation resource like we have generation, the Palo Verde Nuclear power plant, or Ocotillo Power Plant sitting in Tempe Arizona, one of our utility scale solars, it's a source of generation, and you have to treat it as a source of generation and pay for that generation as that source. We agree there may be some other costs in the future that you can look at, but we don't know what it looks like because we don't know where solar's going to be in the future, how many homes, what areas and so on. It's hard to understand infrastructure. On the distribution network, we don't believe there's going to be much savings in that respect. The savings we make if there's going to be savings will be in the transmission system. So if the dialogue that has to take place to come to closure on where do you think those may occur in the future--

Ted Simons: To get that dialogue started we talked about the poll last week, hear the sound bite-- the idea that APS is a monopoly and it wants to end consumer choice on how folks get electricity.

Court Rich: They've figured out that every time a consumer in Arizona puts solar panels on their roof, APS sells a little bit less electricity and that's doesn't work for a monopoly that never had to deal with that before so they're trying to take away that choice and that option.

Ted Simons: Respond please.

Mark Schiavoni: The word option I find interesting because customers have always had an option. People have been putting solar on their roofs long before net metering took place. It was there choice to do that. They absorbed the cost of that. Today, they're asking their neighbors to absorb the costs of what they're doing. It's a little bit different today than what you may have done years ago. I don't agree that they're losing choice. I think the customers still have choice. This is really a cost issue and it's who's going to subsidize the cost for that power that's returned to the grid. That is the simple part of the equation.

Ted Simons: And I hear subsidy also coming from the other side, basically saying that the more again the more they go solar, the less profit comes into APS, the less revenue that comes into APS, and then they're winding up thinking they are subsidizing APS when the whole world is going solar. How do you respond to that?

Jeff Guldner: As the revenues are reduced from people going into solar, the infrastructure doesn't change. If you still have that infrastructure, that's the critical thing to understand with rooftop solar systems and with net metering, the infrastructure has to be there for it to work. You get back into the fundamental fairness question that someone has to pay for that infrastructure. If you're a regulated utility, you are cost based, the infrastructure is paid for by the customers that don't have solar on their system. You can solve that by valuing the solar in a certain way and make it a sustainable policy. That's really the discussion that we're having.

Ted Simons: And I believe there was a California study looking at the future of distributed energy and they factored in future benefits, they factored in infrastructure, as well, they saw that there were benefits for all rate-payers, not just we hear a lot that the rich are benefiting from this and the poor will get hurt. They're saying because of these avoided future costs that things do tend to even out. Are you buying that?

Mark Schiavoni: There's many studies out there today, including the one you're talking about. There are benefits. There's no question, solar provides a benefit whether it's on a roof or sitting out in Gila bend. We wouldn't argue about the benefit. There's some environmental benefit. How do you put a cost on that? Benefits when you need new generations. You don't know that until you get to that point. That's part of the challenge you have. So I would disagree in concept with the outcome of that study because I think it's used as a predictor and we don't know yet what those costs will look like in the future.

Jeff Guldner: One of the things we're talking about in that study is simply the excess energy that's generated. They're not looking at the cost shift that occurs when customers that use the system aren't paying for the cost of that system. So in the California example, the utilities they're talking about a $1.2 billion per year shift in costs that's not being discussed in that particular study.

Ted Simons: And real quickly when you have that kind of added load to those that don't have solar, doesn't it become a perpetual machine? If I don’t have solar and I am paying more cause my neighbor does--I'm going to want more solar and thus again, less comes -- does APS have to look at this in the future? Is this a business model that can sustain itself?

Mark Schiavoni: We don't think it's a model that can sustain itself, your rates will continue to increase for those that don't have solar and eventually, as Jeff mentioned earlier, the housing bubble is the great example, everything collapses around it. Now's the time to fix it. There's 16,000, roughly , customers that have it today. We've got to get ahead of it because to your point, as people see this, they're going to say I want it and somebody's got to pay for it.

Ted Simons: We have about 30 seconds left. If I'm thinking of putting rooftop solar on, if I've got it on, are an antagonist? Are my friend? Who are you?

Jeff Guldner: If you're a supporter of long term solar energy in Arizona, you've got to find a sustainable solution. You should follow the debate, you should watch what's happening, participate in the debate if you want, it's going to go from us to the corporation commission for discussion of the policy but we're looking for a solution to something so that this can sustained in the long term.

Mark Schiavoni: If I could, solar's an important part of our future. It's everything we provide to the Arizona corporation commission as far as our resource planning, we want solar to be sustained. We just have to find the right way to do this.

Ted Simons: It's good to have you both here, thanks for joining us.

Mark Schiavoni: Thank you.

Arizona ArtBeat: Ceramic Artist Wayne Higby

  |   Video
  • Wayne Higby is an internationally-known ceramic artist and is on the faculty of the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in New York. Higby uses ceramic vessels to convey imagery. Higby will talk about his work on Arizona Horizon.
  • Wayne Higby - Artist
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: art, artbeat, ceramic, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight’s edition of “Arizona Artbeat” looks at the work of internationally known ceramic artist Wayne Higby, who uses ceramic vessels for evocative landscape imagery. We welcome Wayne Higby to "Arizona Horizon."

Ted Simons: It's good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Wayne Higby: Thank you ted.

Ted Simons: Now, I was reading up on you and I heard this quote, “meditation on the relationship between mind and matter.” Is that what you do?

Wayne Higby: I think that's probably what we all do but I focus on that to some extent in my ideas.

Ted Simons: Explain exactly what you do, what you're trying to accomplish. What do we take away?

Wayne Higby: My work has been a relationship to the American landscape and it draws resources from the history of American landscape art but more than that I think for me it's been the physicality of materials and processes and I work with my hands and make these things but the imagination is certainly a part of that process. Imagination is my mind so the matter and physical thing connected to your imagination is this meditation on material process and mind.

Ted Simons: Interesting. Why landscapes?

Wayne Higby: I was born in the west. I was born in Colorado springs and I grew up there, an only child, had a horse. I guess that pretty much explains that part.

Ted Simons: Well, that's interesting. How does an only child with a horse -- did you do like the rest of us as kids, a little glazed thing in pottery?

Wayne Higby: Yes, I think so. I think in particular perhaps as an only child, I didn't have that many people to talk to, I didn't have brothers or sisters but I worked with sticks and paper and glue and they spoke to me. I think clay of course, I remember that first lump of wet clay and pressing my thumb into it, and having it say hello, you must be Wayne, from that point we have a conversation. Materials and processes have always been that conversational other, a sense of how I communicate with myself, and now how I communicate with other people.

Ted Simons: And some of your art, I think we have a chance to take a look at some of your artwork here. What do we look for? Obviously, there's landscape elements here but what do we look for when we look at ceramics, when we look at pottery, this form of art?

Wayne Higby: I always say an art professor will have a lot of students and I encourage them not to look for anything. I encourage them just to be vulnerable to looking, come and have an experience, don't project, try to just enjoy what you're seeing. And I think if that can happen, you will be able to receive whatever the work is saying.

Ted Simons: And it's the same thing when you do architectural installations, just let it wash over you?

Wayne Higby: Let it come in. Be vulnerable to it. You don't have to immediately decide what it is. But enjoy it and certainly pay attention, you know. As a craftsman I always say craft is the art of paying attention and paying attention to where you are, what you're involved in, what you see is a way of being vulnerable to the world, having it come in.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, do you wait for the muse or do you go sit down every day and find the muse?

Wayne Higby: Well, I don't wait for the muse but I think in that sense being an artist is a job, like anyone else’s job, you go to work. Some days you want to be there, some days you don't but you start working and as you start working, things begin to happen and all of a sudden, you're working in and it takes care of itself.

Ted Simons: So for a work day for you, get up early, work all day, get up early do other things, work all afternoon and evening?

Wayne Higby: I've been teaching for 40 years at Alfred university and they have what is considered what the world's most famous ceramic arts program. I get up and I go there every morning three days a week and I teach all day. Then on the other days, I go to my studio very early and I work very early and sometimes, I'll get a phone call that says it's time to eat.

Ted Simons: Is it important for an artist, any artist, to have that connection with people, students or just going out to lunch and living -- working as an insurance agent? Having that connection as opposed to being the artist ensconced in his studio and bruiting over something?

Wayne Higby: I think you need both. I think you need -- one thing, artist's work, it's pretty lonely. But I think the network of other artists, knowing other artists and communicating with other artists is very important to continue to kind of keep things moving and keep you engaged. So it's a combination and it's like, you know, working but also enjoying the idea you might have an audience and someone will come and look at the work

Ted Simons: And someone who wants to look at your work, we have an exhibit this weekend?

Wayne Higby: The retrospective opens this weekend, it shows the past 50 years of my work, 60 pieces in the exhibition. On Saturday the 27th, I think it opens around 2:30 at the ASU art museum.

Ted Simons: And this is a considerable volume here, a catalog, a life history, the whole nine yards. Well, congratulations on a wonderful career and good luck with the exhibit here in Arizona and I hope you enjoy your stay.

Wayne Higby: It's wonderful here.

Ted Simons: Very good, thank you.

Ted Simons: And that is it for now. I'm Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening

McCain and Immigration polls

  |   Video
  • Two new polls are out on immigration reform and Senator John McCain. The McCain poll shows his job performance approval rating is at its lowest point in 21 years. Jim Haynes of the Behavior Research Center will talk about the latest Rocky Mountain polls.
  • Jim Haynes - Behavior Research Center
Category: Immigration   |   Keywords: McCain, immigration, polls, senator,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I’m Ted Simons. Senator John McCain’s job approval ratings are at their lowest in 21 years. That’s according to a poll released earlier this week by the Phoenix-based Behavior Research Center. Joining us now is Jim Haynes, president and CEO of Behavior Research Center. It's good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Jim Haynes: Always a pleasure.

Ted Simons: Lowest approval rating in 21 years. Let's start with when this poll was taken. Before immigration, background checks?

Jim Haynes: Before both.

Ted Simons: What do we take from that?

Jim Haynes: The main thing I take from it is that people are down generally with regard to incumbent politicians. We see that with relatively low numbers for the governor, we see it all over the country with incumbent senators, governors. People just aren't happy. It goes with their whole attitude about the economy. They're not pleased with where things are.

Ted Simons: As far as McCain is concerned, is it job performance? Is it personality? Fatigue?

Jim Haynes: It could be any of the three of those, yes. The senator has always been a Maverick. He doesn't follow party lines. There's been a lot of appealing things about him throughout his career but every time you kind of stray from the farm, you pick up some animosity. So I don't know what it is.

Ted Simons: It sounds like from what your survey shows, for some Republicans, he's not enough of a conservative. For some Democrats, he's not enough of a Maverick. He's not enough of some things for people.

Jim Haynes: That is correct, another way of saying it to some Republicans, he's not enough of a Republican and to some democrats, he's still a Republican.

Ted Simons: There you go.

Jim Haynes: That's the price a Maverick is going to pay and senator McCain has always realized that. He's his own man. But at the end of the day, it's still not an indicator of whether he can or will be re-elected.

Ted Simons: As far as McCain's numbers historically, 21-year low here but does it ebb and flow with him?

Jim Haynes: It ebbs and flows from about 2005, 2006, it's been on kind of a downhill slide. That's also not unusual for a long-term incumbent. You may recall Senator Goldwater in his last run for office almost got beat at the end of the night. Most of us thought Phil Schultz was the senator. And, you know, it's hard.

Ted Simons: We mentioned pre or post immigration reform bill. You have another survey regarding immigration. Tell us about that and about how that may factor into the next polls about senator McCain.

Jim Haynes: I think it's surprising, it's going to be surprising to a lot of people. Three quarters of Arizonans support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants that are in the country now based on four criteria that they have no criminal record, that they pay taxes, that they register their presence here, and that they learn to speak English. What we did was take all the normal objections of kind of anti-immigrant groups and say okay, let's take them off the table. Now, what do you think? And the public said no problem. They feel the same way with respect to a path for work permits for those that aren't interested in membership, that just want to come here and work. I think the Senators, leadership on those issues is going to bode very well for it. I think he's on Arizona's side, on those issues.

Ted Simons: As far as the immigration poll is concerned, specifically those numbers, changes different than what you've seen in the past or is that a different question?

Jim Haynes: We haven't asked the same question in the past. We asked this particular question and the way we did it because we were kind of interested in what the field organization did in California a couple of months ago and we asked it the same way. Results came out very similar. So, you know, I think it's interesting that it paints a different picture of the average Arizonian that most of the rest of the country has been getting the last few years.

Ted Simons: Last question, numbers for McCain, lowest in 21 years. However, that does not mean that he's in necessarily political trouble when it comes to re-election, correct?

Jim Haynes: That's exactly right. That's what I meant when I said it's not an indicator. At the end of the day, at the next election, there's going to be somebody else running against him and it's going to be senator John McCain or candidate a. So this poll in itself doesn't address that.

Ted Simons: If candidate a doesn't do it either, McCain could very well get your vote?

Jim Haynes: Most probably would get your vote because he's a known quantity.

Ted Simons: There you go.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here, thanks for joining us.

Jim Haynes: Always enjoy it