Yesterday (Aug. 28) Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) announced that Rocky Mountain Power, governments and the state’s solar industry, came to an agreement on the future of rooftop solar and net-metering in the state. Under the agreement existing rooftop solar customers are grandfathered into their net-metering rates through the end of 2035 and new rooftop solar customers will be transitioned to a new program crediting them for the energy their solar panels put back on the grid.
“By bringing key parties together, we have found a collaborative and strategic approach to meeting our net metering challenges,” Herbert said. “With this fair and balanced agreement, Utah will soon become the first state in the nation to preserve the vital role of our emerging solar industry as it becomes sustainable, without subsidies, in our diversifying energy market.”
The utility wanted to impose fees on rooftop solar customers and reduce the rates it pays for net-metering to its customers. Under the agreement, which is pending approval by the Utah Public Service Commission, customers submitting a rooftop solar application after Nov. 15, 2017. “Subsequent to the close of the net metering program to new customers, the agreement establishes a three-year transition program to provide export credits for rooftop solar customers that deliver solar energy onto the Rocky Mountain Power system,” the governor’s office said.
The value of the rooftop solar power customers put back on the grid will be determined by the commission. The commission will consider the proposal from the parties at its hearings in September. But the aim is to move to an unsubsidized program for solar generation exported to the grid, according to the governor’s office. The three-year transition period will allow solar companies and customers to adjust and adapt to the new reimbursement scheme.
Utah is just one of the states that’s changing its net-metering policies as utilities and some governments are looking to reduce the amount utilities have to pay for rooftop solar. In the past year, almost every state has seen some changes or proposed changes to net-metering polices, which could impact the solar industry and the jobs it creates.
“Throughout this process, the Utah Solar Energy Association had two clear priorities: to keep rooftop solar affordable for Utahns and preserve the 4,400 jobs the solar industry has created,” said Ryan Evans, president of the Utah Solar Energy Association. “This compromise maintains solar as an affordable and secure investment, encourages self reliance and promotes choice in our energy market. We appreciate Gov. Herbert’s recognition of the important role distributed energy production and rooftop solar holds for our citizens and the economy, with its nearly $400 million in annual economic impact to our state. The leadership that he and Dr. Laura Nelson provided over the last nine months ensured we reached an acceptable compromise in this very challenging and important issue.”
“The negotiations gave a chance for ratepayer, electric grid and environmental benefits of rooftop solar to be demonstrated,” said Michael Shea, senior policy associate for HEAL Utah. “While sacrifices were made, HEAL feels the settlement creates a sustainable path forward for the solar industry to continue to grow in Utah. We look forward to working with all parties to push for the further advancement of sustainable energy in Utah.”Tweet