Utah Utility’s Recent Push To Impose New Fee On Residential Solar Customers Angers Many

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Utah’s largest utility, Rocky Mountain Power, recently began mulling the idea of imposing a new fee on its residential solar customers — an idea that since being proposed has been generating intense debate.

Given that the utility doesn’t actually have that many solar customers — only around 2000 — the move may seem a bit strange. Especially when you consider that the fee would be rather substantial — $4.25 a month. Why so high? Supposedly to “to help pay some of the fixed costs of supplying and receiving electricity.” Hmmm.

Credit: SolarWorld Americas
Credit: SolarWorld Americas

It’s been suggested that such changes, net metering fees, and the solar tax model, such as the ones proposed in Utah, are the result of efforts by The American Legislative Exchange Council — an association for conservative law makers.

Climate Progress recently published a good story on the subject, some of the best excerpts are below:

Wherever he goes, Mark Richards has people coming up to ask his opinion, expressing their frustration and concern.

“I’ve never seen such a hostility from residents as I have on this issue,” said Richards, partner at Woods Cross, Utah-based InterMountain Wind and Solar. “I’m amazed at the intensity I’m seeing.”

Utah’s fight is indicative of a rapidly escalating tension: As rooftop solar becomes more and more mainstream, driven largely by middle class customers, utility companies across the country are looking to soften the blow to their business model by charging solar customers a monthly fee.

Mike Rossetti, a resident of Draper, Utah, took the decision to invest in solar power very seriously. A little over four years ago, inspired by his wife and the tech companies he’s worked for that have made serious investments in renewable energy, he studied for an entire year and ultimately did his own solar installation (with the help of an electrician, he adds).

Rossetti has been thrilled with his decision to go solar and thinks any Utah resident who wants to do the same should have that opportunity — something he worries is jeopardized by an additional charge on solar customers. “When I heard about this net metering fee I got very concerned because the four and a quarter over a 25 year lifespan would really make a hefty chunk of a person’s investment,” he said.

Exactly the thought that comes to my mind — what effect will this have on potential solar system buyers?

“Depending on the size of their system, it could be 10% or even more because some people only put in four or five panels and this is a flat fee,” Rossetti noted. “As a result, the additional charge could really impact lower income or elderly people who just want to put their foot into renewable investment.”

In related news, those who are considering purchasing a solar system for their home should check out this recent article on the subject: Solar Systems — The Way To Emancipate Yourself From Electric Slavery.

Worth a read. 🙂

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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