How is this different from what solar advocates do? For starters, because of the secrecy and lying about who is putting out the message: http://pvsolarreport.com/blog/item/1009-killing-rooftop-solar-%E2%80%93-arizona-power%E2%80%99s-latest-shenanigan
Why do solar advocates claim that APS is trying to kill solar in Arizona, even though Arizona is second only to California in solar deployments? Because APS is trying to kill roofop solar, not utility-scale solar. As in a number of other states, the utilities are taking the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach but are working hard to ensure that solar power generation is kept in their own hands and not on their customers' roofs.
Why is rooftop solar important? It keeps control in the hands of the people using the power, it keeps dollars circulating in the local economy (even more so with a FIT that promotes local ownership than with leases), it avoids power loss and costs that come with building new transmission lines.
To be clear, I am not against utility-scale solar. I think we need all kinds of solar. However, I believe we need as much power generation as possible to be locally owned and controlled by the people who use it.
I agree that a truly independent study would be great. To be fair and accurate, it would need to include costs like the many huge subsidies that continue being shelled out for fossil fuels. We can't have a real conversation about costs without including those.
That would not even count all the externalities that make fossil fuels truly too costly for the planet and its inhabitants.