SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Governor Herbert gathered at the capitol with utility and solar leaders to praise a compromise reached on net metering. What price solar customers will get in the future remains to be seen.
Net metering allows customers with solar or other electricity generation to sell unused electricity back to their utility.
Last November Rocky Mountain power was requesting a drastic change in the rates they paid back to net metering customers. The power company notes they paid a full rate of 10.6 cents a kilowatt hour, while they buy whole sale solar power from larger farms for around 3.3 cents a kwh.
Solar companies, which employs around 4,000 people in the state, said the rate change would devastate their industry. Much like it did in Nevada when similar changes were put in place.
After months of negotiation all sides announced their compromise going forward. Rocky Mountain Spokesman Jon Cox said they’re happy all sides could be heard.
“It’s really remarkable,” said Cox. “Having said that there is a lot work left to do. This isn’t the end of the road, but it is one step in the right direction.”
Under the compromise those who already have a rooftop system, or sign up for one by November 14th, will be locked into the current net metering rate. Those who buy one over the next three years will have a slightly lower rate of 9.2 cents kwh.
After 2020 the rate is not yet settled. Both sides plan to study the issue and come to the table with what they believe is a fair market rate.
Ryan Evans is President of the Utah Solar Energy Association. He says the compromise is good because it protects the more than 20,000 homes and businesses who already have solar. Will also allow roof top solar to continue. Which is where the majority of solar jobs are.
“Solar companies are just going to have to adapt to and learn to price their systems in a way that is economically affordable for Utahns,” said Evans.
Dr. Laura Nelson is the Energy Advisor for Gov. Herbert. She notes how important it was to come to an agreement to help meet emission reduction goals set by the state. Dr. Nelson also notes how nothing like this has been done before.
“This has been tried in other states across the country and this is the first time we’ve seen this kind of success,” said Dr. Nelson. “So it truly is unprecedented.”