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320 MW Solar Deal For Utah Utility Because Solar’s The Cheapest Option

Rocky Mountain Power struck a deal with Boston-based First Wind agreeing to purchase solar power over twenty years from four solar facilities in Beaver and Iron counties in Utah. Construction is set to begin in 2015 and be completed the following year. According to First Wind, the new solar sites will be able to provide clean electricity to about 90,000 homes in Utah.

Image Credit: Rich Geraud

Image Credit: Rich Geraud

“These additional long-term contracts with Rocky Mountain Power will  enable us to move forward quickly with what will be the largest solar  development in Utah, and our largest solar project to date,” explained First Wind CEO Paul Gaynor.

Rocky Mountain Power has been operating for over one hundred years, providing electricity to millions of people in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. They currently serve about 1.7 million customers, with 829,00 in Utah and 562,000 in Oregon. They have over 40 hydroelectric facilities, thirteen wind and five natural gas. (Apparently they have no solar power plants.) Under the agreement with the First Wind, they still won’t any own any, but will only purchase the power.

An article on Think Progress noted, “Solar generation is already undercutting coal and natural gas in some parts of the country (and wind has been undercutting them virtually everywhere for some time) leading to the spread of solar PPAs that can out-bid competing fossil fuel projects.”

The rate at which solar power is improving suggests that this trend will continue and new energy projects might all become renewables at some point.

Utah currently ranks number 26 in the United States for installed solar capacity with 18 megawatts. Last year, less than four percent of Utah’s net electricity was generated by renewables.

Politics may be holding back the development of renewables there. Several years ago, a local legislator said he thought climate change was just a ruse to try to control the human population.

Rocky Mountain Power is part of Berkshire Hathway Energy.

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