Study finds Utah Solar Customers Provide over 15x Value Proposed by Rocky Mountain Power
Salt Lake City, UT -- The value of excess energy that solar customers send back to the grid in Rocky Mountain Power’s Utah service territory is $0.24/kWh, finds a new study by Vote Solar. Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) has proposed a $0.015/kWh export credit rate, less than 1/15th the calculated value. Based on the results of its study, Vote Solar is asking the Utah Public Service Commission to reinstate the popular net metering program that ended in 2017.
“The proposed credit rate from Rocky Mountain Power just isn’t fair, plain and simple,” said Briana Kobor, Regulatory Director at Vote Solar. “Solar power provides valuable grid resilience and peak energy, as well as everyday electricity, and the Utah families and businesses producing that energy should be compensated fairly and fully.”
The study is part of a contested proceeding in front of the Utah Public Service Commission, Docket No. 17-035-61. The Utah PSC will hear the case in the fall and is expected to issue a ruling by the end of the year, which will determine the future of rooftop solar in Utah.
Prior to 2017, Utahns with rooftop solar used net metering to offset their RMP electric bills. Net metering provides a fair credit for the excess energy solar owners send back to the grid, allowing those customers to use the credit when their system is not producing (e.g. at night). On November 15, 2017, that program closed to new customers as a result of a settlement between RMP and stakeholders. Parties agreed to a temporary solution known as the Transition Program in which, rather than getting a full retail rate credit on their bill, customers would be paid an “export credit rate” for the energy they send back to the grid. The rate varies by rate schedule with residential customers receiving a rate of $0.092/kWh.
Parties additionally agreed to hold a new hearing on a long-term solution to come into effect after the Transition Program. Rocky Mountain Power filed its proposal on February 3rd, requesting an 84 percent reduction in the export credit rate from $0.092/kWh to $0.015/kWh. If approved, this change would impact customers who adopt solar beginning in 2021. Legacy net metering customers and Transition Program customers will maintain their current rates through 2035 and 2032, respectively. After those programs expire, net metering customers and Transition Program customers would be put onto the new rates.
“Vote Solar here submits an objective and accurate valuation of exported solar power. The valuation is based upon state-of-the-art expert analysis and a robust data population that is far more extensive than that relied upon by Rocky Mountain Power,” said Philippe Selendy of Selendy & Gay PLLC, who is representing Vote Solar in the case. “We look forward to an impartial and fair assessment by the Utah Public Service Commission.”
Vote Solar is recommending that the Commission find that the benefits of the net metering program far exceed its costs, and that RMP re-open the program to new customers next year. Vote Solar’s study was supported by the participation of over 3,300 Utahns who opted-in to providing Vote Solar with their energy usage and solar generation data. Vote Solar’s experts analyzed that data to account for utility avoided energy and capacity costs, financial and security risks, and environmental and societal benefits, finding that the true value of rooftop solar on Rocky Mountain Power’s grid is $0.24/kWh.
The case will run throughout the summer. A public comment meeting is scheduled for October 5th at 2pm on the Fourth Floor, Room 403 of the Heber M. Wells Building, 160 East 300 South in Salt Lake City. The Commission is expected to rule on the proposal in December.
Vote Solar is a non-profit organization that works across the United States to make solar affordable and accessible. Vote Solar works at the state level to support the policies and programs needed to repower our grid with clean energy. For more information, visit www.votesolar.org.
Founded in 2018 by a group of America’s most prominent trial lawyers, Selendy & Gay PLLC is dedicated to excellence in high-stakes litigation, investigations and public interest cases. To learn more, please visit www.selendygay.com.