A federal Lawsuit has been filed against the state’s regulators over the costs charged by Alabama Power to consumers who generate their electricity with rooftop or on-site solar panels. Environmentalists claim that the high tariffs are intentionally inhibiting the use of solar energy in the sun-drenched state. According to Alabama Power, the payments are required to maintain the infrastructure that supplies backup power to customers when their solar panels are insufficient.
On behalf of four Alabama Power customers who installed solar panels on their properties and the Greater-Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution, or GASP, the Southern Environmental Law Center and Ragsdale LLC filed the Lawsuit on Monday. It was against the Alabama Public Service Commission and the Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution or GASP.
Keith Johnston, director of SELC’s Alabama office, said, “We’re asking the court to require the Commission to follow the law so that Alabama Power will stop unfairly taxing private solar investments.” People using solar panels or other means to generate part of their electricity are charged a $5.41 per kilowatt cost by Alabama Power, depending on the home system’s capacity.
On a typical 5-kilowatt system, this equates to a $27 monthly charge. According to the law center, the average solar panel installation for a home costs around $10,000, and fees add another $9,000 or so during the system’s 30-year lifespan, substantially raising costs and minimizing any financial benefit to the homeowner. The prices, according to Alabama Power, are required to maintain the backup power infrastructure.