Net metering allows Rocky Mountain Power to redistribute the unused kilowatt hours generated by homes that use solar panels to other customers. Owners of homes with solar panels receive a credit per kilowatt-hour of extra power.
Alex Jahp installs commercial solar panels. He said that Utah’s growing solar industry, and the job creation that comes with it, could take a hit from what he calls Rocky Mountain Power’s aggressive policies toward net metering, including a proposed price hike for solar customers.
“Rocky Mountain Power seems to view net metering as a threat to their business model. Solar might be a victim of its own success in that way where, in the past few years, we’ve managed to build 1,489 megawatts worth of solar in the state. That’s enough to power 292,000 households,” Jahp said. “In other states where utilities have managed to really flex their muscles, you’ve seen a lot of those jobs basically overnight disappear.”
Solar companies are hoping to get a better deal through the Public Service Commission, which regulates Rocky Mountain Power in the interests of customers and alternative energy technicians. The Public Service Commission is currently taking public comment on the future of net metering.
Jahp said that the commission’s decision this coming fall could have long-lasting consequences for solar providers and customers.
“It’s essential that people get involved in this process so that we can protect energy choice in the state of Utah. We shouldn’t destroy a thriving industry just to add to the profit of an out-of-state monopoly utility,” he said. “In all honesty, this decision is really going to shape the path of renewable energy in this state in the coming years. It might hold in place for a decade, who really knows? The fight that’s happening in the next few months in critical.”
A report released by Rocky Mountain Power last year claimed that non-solar customers end up subsidizing the net metering system in millions of dollars.