Environment & Public Lands
1:39 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Small Monthly Fee Possible for Net Metering Customers of Rocky Mountain Power

Use of Photovoltaic (Solar) Cells to cut power bills is on the rise in Utah.
Use of Photovoltaic (Solar) Cells to cut power bills is on the rise in Utah.
Credit File: Utah Solar Energy Association

Part of Rocky Mountain Power’s 76.3-million dollar rate increase request includes a $4.25 monthly increase for Utah customers who generate their own power through windmills or solar panels. The utility classifies them as net metering customers. Rocky Mountain Power’s Dave Eskelsen says the request protects traditional customers and is a very small part of the rate increase request. He says it's also intended to help ready the system for technology for which it was not designed.

“Being connected to the grid in this way does have some costs associated with it and the current net metering rules don’t account for all of those costs," says Eskelsen.  "And so what we’ve proposed is this $4.25 charge to recover some of those costs,” he says.

Sara Baldwin is a Senior Policy and Regulatory Associate with Utah Clean Energy. She says there needs to be some close examination of how Rocky Mountain Power arrived at their cost estimates before any decisions are made. And she says air quality concerns should take priority.

“We first want to prove and demonstrate that solar has a value beyond the cost for all rate payers, which we have shown in other forums,” says Baldwin.

Dave Eskelsen says only about 2,200 of Rocky Mountain Power’s 800,000 users are net metering customers but the numbers are increasing. The power company’s Utah Solar Incentive Program has been expanded by the Public Service Commission for 2014. The applications will be accepted beginning next week. Utah customers can get a rebate after installation for part of a new solar system installation.