Berkshire Hathaway Brings Nevada-Style Solar Attacks to Utah

Even a cursory glance at Rocky Mountain Power’s anti-solar proposal filed with the Utah Public Service Commission reveals a striking similarity to the ongoing solar battles launched in Nevada by NV Energy.  And it’s no wonder the filings are so similar: Rocky Mountain Power (owned by PacifiCorp) and NV Energy are sister companies both owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. The major difference is that at least Nevada PUC held a full hearing, whereas Rocky Mountain Power filed a tariff advice letter on November 9 asking for Commission approval a mere 30 days later. As Greentech Media pointed out in August 2014, Berkshire Hathaway’s intentions to kill rooftop solar are clear from a July 2014 strategy document. Rocky Mountain Power’s proposal achieves that intent.

Utah rock formation

The proposal includes a monthly demand charge for solar customers, a $60 application fee for solar customers, and a discriminatory separate rate class for solar customers that includes a $15 monthly fixed charge. Under the proposed rate structure, net-metering customers could end up paying more for electricity than they would if they purchased all of their power from Rocky Mountain Power. In other words, solar customers get penalized for their clean energy investments.

Despite Rocky Mountain Power’s claims of “exponential” and “unprecedented solar growth” wreaking havoc on their business model, there are still only 17,000 customers out of 1.1 million.  That’s right—less than 1.5% of Rocky Mountain Power’s customers have gone solar.

Here’s what we’ve learned from solar wars in the neighboring state of Nevada: the solar-loving public (and that’s just about everyone) are strongly opposed to being blind-sided by anti-solar rate structures. We already knew that solar has broad, bipartisan support, but when solar becomes the headline, support skyrockets.  Nevada’s last poll showed 82% of voters support solar. We saw that voters choose their elected officials based on their solar record. And we also know definitively that people want energy choices, as demonstrated by over 72% of Nevadans voting for the Energy Choice Initiative, which aims to break up the state’s electric utility monopoly and open it to more competitors.

Utah must choose whether to protect public interests and honor energy choice, or to instead protect entrenched corporate interests seeking to defend the monopoly business model. We call upon the Utah Public Service Commission, the Utah Office of Consumer Services, Governor Herbert, and the Utah State Legislature to stop utility overreach and to save solar. You can speak out for customers’ rights to energy choices by signing this petition.

JOIN THE MOVEMENT Sign up for updates from Vote Solar on solar progress and energy justice across the U.S.