Utah bill proposes rooftop solar net metering rate protection


Rooftop solar has historically been supported by net metering regulations across the United States. The process involves customers exporting excess electricity generation to the grid, receiving a credit on their bill for exporting local clean energy to their neighbors.

In Utah, legislators have introduced SB189, which would raise the rate paid under net metering and build consumer protection into future rates. Utility Rocky Mountain Power currently charges about $0.10 per kWh and credits its customers half as much, about $0.05 per kWh for exported rooftop solar generation.

The new policy would require utilities to credit solar owners at least 84% of the cost-per-kilowatt.

“This bill is about providing Utahns with the energy choice they deserve at a fair price,” said Josh Craft, the government and corporate relations manager for Utah Clean Energy.

Historically, Utah has updated its net metering rates on an annual basis. This creates complexity and confusion in the market and makes it difficult for homeowners to make the decision to move forward with a rooftop solar array. Legislators say the new law will help simplify the process and make it easier and more financially attractive to go solar.

The 84% compensation rate seeks to strike a balance between utilities and rooftop solar customers in their territory. The utility incurs some costs by maintaining and repairing a local distribution grid to transmit rooftop solar, so the 16% it shaves off the retail value of exported solar helps maintain those costs.

 “By updating rooftop solar policies, we can ensure that clean energy remains an accessible option for all residents,” said Craft in an interview with KSL News Radio.

California anti-corruption

The bill proposed in Utah bucks a nationwide trend of anti-rooftop solar regulatory moves by electric utilities.

Net metering has come under attack in several states, most notably in California, which represented about 50% of the nation’s rooftop solar market before enacting Net Energy Metering (NEM) 3.0. Post-NEM 3.0, California’s rooftop solar installations have dropped as much as 80%, with tens of thousands of employees being laid off and numerous companies announcing bankruptcy.

The sharply rising electricity rates in California coupled with a track record of anti-consumer regulations has led legislators in California to introduce laws aimed at weeding out potential corruption within the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Assembly Bill 2054 imposes a 10-year cooling-off period under which commissioners cannot take a high-paying position with a utility company after serving.

“It is crucial to safeguard against potential conflicts of interest and undue industry influence on regulatory bodies,” said Assemblymember Bauer Kahan (D, Orinda).

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