PHOENIX — An Arizona-based utilities company could settle its three-year-old lawsuit with an Arizona solar energy equipment supplier by buying massive batteries from the company, now owned by Tesla Inc., and giving incentives to customers who want to put batteries on their homes.
Salt River Project’s board of directors voted Monday to negotiate a deal to end its lawsuit with SolarCity, which dates back to 2015 when the utility approved new rates for customers with solar panels, the Arizona Republic reported .
SolarCity sued Salt River Project in Arizona District Court, accusing the utility of “anticompetitive and tortious conduct designed to eliminate solar competition.”
The utility tried unsuccessfully to dismiss the case on grounds of immunity, arguing that as a public utility it can’t be charged with antitrust laws meant to deter monopolies.
The U.S. Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments on the case this month.
The settlement would have Tesla, which merged with SolarCity in 2016, drop its challenge to the solar rates and Salt River Project drop its Supreme Court appeal of the immunity issue.
“I would like to request approval from you today to resolve this matter and resolve this litigation, moving forward to a more constructive relationship with Tesla on behalf of customers, both theirs and ours,” Michael O’Connor, SRP’s chief legal executive, said.
The settlement requires Tesla’s approval, though the companies already have agreed to the broad terms, O’Connor said.
The deal could make it cost effective for customers in Salt River Project’s electric utility area to install solar.
Tesla officials did not respond to requests for comments Monday.
Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com