Utility regulators at the Utah Public Service Commission have been considering the question for months: How should PacifiCorp factor the costs and benefits of rooftop solar power into their rates?
On Wednesday, commissioners decided the long-term value of rooftop panels shouldn’t be part of the equation – even if Utahns install enough of them that the power company can plan to put off big expenses like building more electric generation.
Clean energy advocates say state regulators have missed an opportunity to make Utah more attractive for solar investments.
“They don’t look at the long-term value of your neighbors investing in rooftop solar and its ability to prevent investments that the utility will have to make,” says Sarah Wright, director and founder of the advocacy group, Utah Clean Energy.
The ruling doesn’t change anything right away. But it could mean going solar will be less affordable and fewer people and businesses will invest in solar panels.
Clean-energy advocates say that would delay the health and environmental benefits of emissions-free solar power to communities struggling with air pollution.