Utah PSC Deals Blow to Rooftop Solar
The Utah PSC changes the rooftop solar export credit rate
October 30, 2020, Salt Lake City, UT – Today, the Utah Public Service Commission (PSC) announced their decision on Rocky Mountain Power’s request to reduce the rooftop solar export credit rate in the state. The PSC is reducing this export credit rate from 9.4 cents/kWh to 5.969 cents/kWh in the summer and 5.639 cents/kWh in the winter. Rocky Mountain Power’s original request was to reduce the export credit to 1.5 cents/kWh.
The Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah) is disappointed that the PSC bowed to industry despite other expert input that found the export credit rate should be raised and public outcry that included over 1,250 public comments and over 100 testimonies during a virtual hearing.
When a rooftop solar customer produces excess energy, they can sell this energy back to their utility. The amount they get back is known as an export credit rate and is a significant monetary incentive to getting rooftop solar.
“Utah’s rooftop solar industry was already hurting after previous rate changes, so reducing the export credit at a time where hundreds of solar jobs have been lost due to COVID-19 is a fatal blow to rooftop solar,” HEAL Utah’s Executive Director Dr. Scott Williams said. “Deliberately deciding not to value the environmental, public health, and economic development implications associated with rooftop solar is a severe disservice to the customers the PSC is meant to protect.”
In 2017, Rocky Mountain Power made an attempt to change rates and charges on rooftop solar customers. Part of this proceeding demanded a three year interim in which Rocky Mountain Power had to redo a study on the cost and benefits of rooftop solar. In January 2020, the utility released their findings and requested a significant reduction in the export credit. This winter, Vote Solar conducted an independent study with over 3,300 customers, resulting in wildly different true costs and benefits of solar. For example, Vote Solar’s analysis valued the compensation rate to be 22.6 cents/kWh.
“With this announcement, the future of rooftop solar in Utah is rocky at best,” Dr. Williams said. “Allowing annual updates to the export credit rate creates uncertainty for the industry and customers who will no longer be able to forecast payback periods or make the financial plans often needed to get rooftop solar in the first place.”
The PSC’s announcement can be found here.
About the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah: The Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah) has been an environmental advocacy organization, watchdog, and strategic influencer in Utah since 1999. By empowering grassroots advocates, using science-based solutions, and developing common-sense policy, HEAL has a track record of tackling some of the biggest threats to Utah’s environment and public health — and succeeding. The organization focuses on clean air, energy and climate, and radioactive waste. HEAL uses well-researched legislative, regulatory, and individual responsibility approaches to create tangible change, and then utilizes grassroots action to make it happen. www.healutah.org.