It’s challenging work, in part because power companies across America have done an especially impressive job of linking themselves with benign things, green and blue things, like grass, the sky, wind and the earth.
Despite that effective marketing, we and you know the truth: Utilities burning coal to generate electricity are a devastating force for ill. Their pollution sickens our families and is warming our planet. They are not moving nearly quickly enough towards wind, solar and geothermal power – and in many cases, they’re actively trying to block that transition.
The Worst in the West
A significant majority of Rocky Mountain Power’s electricity comes from burning coal and the next biggest chunk from natural gas. The data varies, depending upon the source, but roughly 80 to 85 percent of most Utahns’ electricity comes from polluting fossil fuels.
We need your help to force our utility — Rocky Mountain Power — to move away from dirty coal towards clean energy. Check back to this page regularly and read the below posts and news articles to find out more about that work.
To attract as many people as possible to our campaign targeting Rocky Mountain Power, we’ve created a short video. Please check the video out – we think it’s a powerful indictment of our utility’s hypocrisy. It’s just three minutes long, and we’re immensely proud of it:
For residents and businesses in the Salt Lake City area who receive their electricity from PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power, the company’s largest sources of power generation in Utah – coal-fired power plants – are far from sight, to the south in Carbon and Emery Counties. Basic information on pollution emissions from these plants, and on coal-fired power in the state more broadly, isn’t readily provided by the company to Utahns.
Here’s a quick rundown or Rocky Mountain Power’s Coal Plants:
Three units, 1,320 megawatts total. Located near Castle Dale, Utah in Emery County. Owned and operated by PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power. Began operations in 1978.
Two units, 895 megawatts total. Located near Huntington, Utah in Emery County. Owned and operated by PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power. Began operations in 1974.
One unit, 51 megawatts. Located in East Carbon/Sunnyside, Utah, in Carbon County. PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power purchases 100% of the power from the plant, which is owned and operated by Exelon. Began operations in the 1990s. Burns coal waste from old mines.
Carbon Power Plant
Located in helper in Helper, this coal plant has recently been retired.
Our campaigns pushing Rocky Mountain Power have many angles, from fighting against their proposed solar tax, to pushing the state of Utah to use the Regional Haze rule to crack down on coal power pollution, to shining a light on the tortuous thicket of rules that govern utilities which complicate HEAL’s efforts to wield our citizen activism power.
Recent updates on Coal…
It seems hard to believe that 2017 is coming to a close.
We have had some pretty big developments over the past year, one of which is the big rooftop solar settlement. For those that need a quick refresher you can read this Salt Lake Tribune article to get up to speed.
Before reading below, take a look at this video to get more details. In it, I talk with the President of the Utah Solar Energy Association (USEA) Ryan Evans about what the changes mean for the solar industry and customers.
The big news in the last few weeks has been that we have officially switched over to the new solar rate changes as of November 15th. In a big demonstration of the popularity of solar, Rocky Mountain Power was slammed with applications in the final weeks before the change. In fact, the utility received over 4,000 applications in the last ten days before the deadline!
While it was exciting to see that so many people applied for solar to get the old rates, it is important to remember that for the next three years you can still get a pretty great deal! While not quite as generous as the original, the deal still allows Utahns to take advantage of this great technology.
So what has changed? Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. For the short term, it will get more expensive to have rooftop solar system. The biggest difference comes from a decrease in the rate customers get compensated for the excess electricity they put back into the grid. Customers will no longer receive a “one for one credit” for the electricity they produce. Translation: You used to get paid for the exported electricity at the exact rate you bought electricity from the utility.
Under the new rate system, owners will get a credit of around 92% of the rate at which they buy electricity. This change, coupled with a difference in the way the time intervals for exported energy are measured, will likely add to the overall cost and extend the payback periods for most systems.
Now the good news! While the export rate has been reduced, you will still get the same rate guaranteed for the next 15 years! This is one of the most important aspects of purchasing a system. Additionally, Utahns will still be able to take advantage of the rooftop solar tax credit, which was slated to be reduced buy $400 each year starting in 2018. However, part of the settlement is an agreement to “freeze” the phase out at $1600 for the next two years. This will help offset some of the costs new system owners may incur.
What does this mean if you're interested in solar energy?
You can still get a good deal! If you are looking into getting rooftop solar, I strongly encourage you to continue to do so. Like buying a car or other major purchase, it is important to shop around with different solar companies to find out which system works best for your home. The benefits of owning a system are still there. You will be saving money and you will be helping the environment.
Over the next three years HEAL and other solar advocacy and industry groups will be getting ready for a solar export rate docket at the Public Service Commission. This gives us the change to make the case, once again, for the benefits of rooftop solar. Unlike the last case at the Public Service Commission, this time we will have a wider range of parameters, including environmental factors, to bring to the table.
As always, if you have any questions or would like more details, please feel free to reach out! You can also visit the
USEA website for more info as well.
Your Solar Jedi,
Michael | Senior Policy Associate
The HEAL Utah Podcast
Michael Explains The Rooftop Solar Settlement on the HEAL Utah Podcast!
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Salt Lake Tribune
Fireworks are lighting up the state capital again as legislators considered a bill on Wednesday to cut the number of days Utahns can embrace their pyromania. Legislators opened a committee bill file in August to review the issue, and are now moving forward with reforms.
Utah is unique in that we celebrate not one, but two, firework-worthy holidays in July – Independence Day on July 4 and Pioneer Day on July 24. Many Utahns take the two holidays as a reason to celebrate all month long, much to the chagrin of their early-to-bed and animal-loving neighbors.
Utah State Forester Brian Cottam told legislators in August that “stupid human tricks” doubled the cost of fighting wildfires to $18 million this year.
To read more, click here.Read more...
NEWS: In the past 10 days, twice as many Utahns signed up for solar panels every day than usually do in a month
Salt Lake Tribune
More than 4,000 Utahns signed up to install solar panels in the 10 days before Tuesday’s deadline, becoming the last residents who will get credit under Rocky Mountain Power’s current — and more generous — terms for excess electricity delivered to its grid.
More than 3,000 of the roughly 4,300 applications were filed in the final four days.
The utility’s net metering program reduces residents’ power bills by one kilowatt hour for each kilowatt hour they generate. For customers who missed this week’s deadline and sign up in coming years, it’s moving to a new paradigm in which credits will be offered in dollar amounts — 9.2 cents per kilowatt hour through 2032.
It currently charges about 10 cents per kilowatt hour, so the new credits will be worth slightly less than those awarded under the old system.
To read more, click here.Read more...