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9th Court Of Appeals Rules SRP Not Immune To Anti-Trust Lawsuits

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled utility company Salt River Project is not immune from anti-trust lawsuits when setting customers’ rates, even if it is a quasi-governmental entity.

SRP had argued, because its governing board approved recent rate hikes, the power company is justified to impose annual penalty fees on solar customers to avoid shifting costs to the remaining electric customer base.

But, SolarCity's attorneys claimed that penalty is "substantial," with solar clients paying an estimated 60 percent increase over a 3.9 percent rate increase imposed on electric-only consumers. And, because solar customers cannot fully disconnect from the electric grid, they contend, the utility company is trying to eliminate competition.

“Customers recognize that SRP's new pricing plan leaves them with no choice,” the lawsuit states.

SolarCity’s attorneys estimated SRP’s penalty fee averages $600 a year for solar adopters, and that’s why SolarCity’s contracts dropped 96 percent once SRP’s new penalty went into effect.

SRP spokesman Scott Harelson said an appeal is possible for the utility, which serves the Phoenix metro area.

Unless the decision is overturned on appeal, it means SRP, and other Arizona utility companies, could be forced to defend their penalties and rates in court.

Arizona Public Service already settled with solar companies, but that agreement awaits a hearing and final approval by the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Holliday Moore is a native Arizonan and veteran journalist who joined KJZZ’s news team in January 2017.Moore graduated from Arizona State University after double majoring in mass communications and marketing/management. She spent her first two decades reporting for television news, beginning in small markets and working up to congressional correspondent in Washington, D.C., for a political news service.Family commitments in Arizona brought her back to the Southwest, where she covered legislative and court beats for Albuquerque’s KRQE-TV and the infamous Four Corner Manhunt as KREZ-TV’s managing editor.Back home in Phoenix, she developed ABC15’s “Democracy Project,” now instituted at all Scripps’ news stations nationwide. Her work garnered “Best Practices” recognition by the Poynter Institute and the prestigious Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism.Her television reports, from sports to cultural issues, earned her multiple Emmy and Associated Press nominations, including a Rocky Mountain Emmy for her Hopi Partition Land Act coverage.As she started a family, Moore started her own media production agency, producing magazine-style travel stories for the Emmy-winning Arizona Highways Television show while working part time for a Valley radio station. She is convinced radio is where visual, sound, and print are merging through deeper storytelling. In her relatively short time with radio network affiliates, she has won four Edward R. Murrow Awards and multiple nominations from other professional news societies.Moore now teaches advanced broadcast writing to the next generation of reporters at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where a high percentage have gone on to receive national awards for their work in her class. She enjoys being back home near childhood friends and sharing the beautiful Arizona desert with her husband and young son.