Environmental Groups and a handful of state legislators are calling on the public service commission to deny Rocky Mountain Power’s request to charge solar power users an extra fee.
The Utah Public Service Commission is tasked with regulating Rocky Mountain Power and determining fair rates for customers. They’re about to begin hearing testimony on the costs and benefits of solar power customers who use net metering. The analysis will be used to determine if Rocky Mountain Power will be able to add an additional fee to net meter users.
Several environmental groups oppose the fee and claim that it will discourage the use of clean energy. Democratic state representative Angela Romero represents the west side of Salt Lake City. She says the commission should look at more than just the dollars and cents and include environmental costs.
“I don’t think we look at this as a deficit," she says. "I think we look at this as an investment, because with solar, with wind, with clean energy we also bring middle skill jobs and employment opportunities for our community and overall health.”
Dave Eskelsen is a spokesman for Rocky Mountain Power. He says the fee is only aimed at making sure that people who use solar power aren’t subsidized by those who don’t. He also says the commission should only look at the quantifiable benefits of solar power.
“If there are societal and environmental benefits, those do not accrue directly to utilities cost or the rate that customers pay, so how do you account for them in some way that makes sense," he says.
The commission will receive cost/benefit analysis from both Rocky Mountain Power and groups like the Sierra Club in the next few weeks. On October 10 they’ll hear public testimony before making a final decision.