- Students from Rowland Hall High School in Salt Lake City delivered a petition asking the Utah Public Service Commission (PSC) to block a Rocky Mountain Power-proposed fee on rooftop solar customers, and to instead consider the full spectrum of solar benefits.
- The utility argues that solar growth, driven by Utah’s net energy metering (NEM) policy and falling solar costs, is shifting the burden of grid costs to non-solar owning customers because solar owners’ grid maintenance payments fall when they generate their own electricity and feed it back into the grid.
- Utah's largest utility wants state regulators’ permission to impose a monthly fee on solar owners to make up for diminished revenues. Regulators rejected the fee in 2014. Solar advocates say distributed solar offers cost savings and environmental benefits. Rocky Mountain Power argues it is not required to consider environmental benefits.
NEM is mandated in 44 states and is now used by 644,000 homes, including about 3,000 in Utah.
"Solar power not only reduces strain on the grid by producing clean electricity on sunny days, [it] also lessens the need to make costly investments in new power plants," the student petition reads. "Because of Rocky Mountain Power's monopoly status and its guaranteed profits, the company ordinarily has little incentive to innovate or cut costs …The growth of solar use provides an excellent opportunity for the company to improve its internal efficiency and subsequently offer cheaper electricity…"
Utah’s 2014 SB 208 directs a solar cost-benefit analysis to more fully understand how it might burden or benefit ratepayers and society as a whole. The petition was delivered during the second in the PSC’s series of technical conferences on the subject. The commission will hold a three-day public hearing on the solar fee in October.