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Published on September 15th, 2011 | by Susan Kraemer


Utah Caps Solar Quota at Just 21 Homes Statewide

September 15th, 2011 by  

What a difference it makes whether you live in a good clean-energy-policy state or you don’t.

Solar incentives in sunny but 95% coal-powered Utah are so low that the entire state has capped rooftop solar with a quota of no more than 107 KW worth of home solar systems allowed per year. At about 5 KW each (Utah homeowners likely have A/C costs to cover) that amounts to only 21 or so homes!

That is not an incentive. That is a damper on solar development.

By contrast, in New Jersey, solar homeowners can literally farm the arable land on their rooftops and earn seriously good money from utilities, for the very same power they simultaneously make to supply their own free electricity.

It is such a good deal for clean energy, it is no wonder the Koch boys were all over Governor Christie to force him out of RGGI, the regional Cap and Trade program that has made the Northeastern states among the leading states in US greenhouse gas reduction.

The irony is that Utah is a perfect state for solar, while New Jersey is… meh. Nevertheless, New Jersey, which passed progressive legislation well before the Tea Party got its teeth into the state, is the second state after California in solar installations.

Its Renewable Energy Standard is a mandate that requires utilities buy 22.5 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2021. While New Jersey utilities don’t have sunfilled deserts like Utah, for solar; every homeowner has a roof.

Electric utilities can buy the evidence of the power being produced off each roof, a megawatt hour at a time, by purchasing Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs). Most homes have enough roof space to make at least 4 megawatt hours of power every year (that’s 4,000 kilowatt hours annually). So it is homeowners in New Jersey who have successfully reduced the state greenhouse gas missions, and have been paid good money to do it.

By contrast, Utah only has a “voluntary goal” of 20 percent renewables by 2025 for utilities. So the state’s largest utility, Rocky Mountain Power has no real incentive to encourage solar distributed generation, “which conflicts with its business model,” because DG would take energy sales away from the company, Benjamin Turner, the program coordinator for the Utah Solar Energy Association, told Energy Prospects West.

Utah gets 95% of its energy from coal And with solar incentives like this, looks like it aims to keep it that way.

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

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