Rocky Mountain Power was wise to back down on net metering
The Park Record editorial, Dec. 14-16, 2016
Late last week, in the face of substantial public criticism, Rocky Mountain Power agreed to withdraw its request to raise metering rates for new rooftop solar users. At least temporarily.
The power company justified the rate hike proposal with claims that solar users don’t pay their fair share for upkeep of the region’s grid network, even though they rely on it when the sun doesn’t shine. According to Rocky Mountain Power, regular power users were basically subsidizing those costs for solar customers.
But that misses the larger point: solar users are helping to improve air quality for everyone, even those who rely on coal-fueled electricity.
Investing in solar panels — along with installation — is not cheap. Even with Utah’s sunny climate, most homeowners won’t recoup those costs for a decade or more. Increasing their monthly power bills to offset maintenance of the grid would add years to that balance sheet.
More importantly, the higher rate could discourage new homeowners from trying solar power.
In Summit County, where protecting the natural environment is held sacred, the outcry against Rocky Mountain Power’s fossilized agenda was particularly loud. And rightfully so. Residents denounced the proposed rate hikes while elected officials took a more diplomatic approach. But the message was clear — any attempt to block or slow the community’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint would be met with staunch opposition.
Both sides took their arguments to the Utah Public Service Commission, which has the final say in the matter. The commission’s job is to ensure public utilities are affordable and also financially sound and initially supported the power company’s proposal, but as the solar lobby gained intensity, Rocky Mountain must have sensed its prospects dimming. On Friday it decided to withdraw and review the proposed rate schedule.
In the meantime, sales of solar panels have picked up and, for now, the future of Utah’s nascent solar industry looks bright. That’s especially good news for Park City, which is trying to reach a net-zero carbon emission goal by 2022.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Park City and Summit County make the Park Record's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Our view: In putting their differences aside and agreeing to share a message of unity and democracy, Spencer Cox and Chris Peterson rose above the mudslinging that has come lately to define our politics.