Net Metering

Net Metering

Because Rocky Mountain Power is a monopoly, it has to request permission from the Public Service Commission if it wants to change its prices (aka electricity rates). We at Utah Clean Energy want your electricity rates to reflect good policy—that is, we want to see price signals (for all you economics geeks out there) that encourage smart energy behaviors, like energy efficiency, electric plug-in vehicles, and rooftop solar.

The Latest

The debate over Rocky Mountain Powers' highly controversial proposal for a $4.65 solar fee is underway. On May 22nd, Utah Clean Energy submitted over 75 pages of direct testimony and exhibits to the Public Service Commission. Amongst the docket's formal interveners, Utah Clean Energy is providing key testimony that outlines the benefits of solar. The May 22nd testimony is the second round of testimony out of six that Utah Clean Energy will be filing as a formal intervener in the Rate Case (see below for full timeline). This is an ongoing docket that Utah Clean Energy is highly immersed in! See below to learn more about this issue.

Rooftop Solar Benefits All Utahns – No Fees on Solar

Overview: Rooftop solar gives Utahns an opportunity to generate their own electricity cleanly and efficiently, thereby contributing nonpolluting energy to Utah's electricity grid. As consumers in a free market-based economic system, we regularly benefit from freedom of choice and the ability to make investments based on our personal values, economics, quality and convenience. Unfortunately, some utilities perceive rooftop solar as potential for lost revenues, and are taking action to stifle the emerging competition. Locally, Utah's monopoly utility, Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) is working to stamp out competition from rooftop solar , and has requested (as part of its recent 2014 General Rate Case application) that the Utah Public Service Commission approve a new monthly fee for customers with rooftop solar.

Why This Matters

  • RMP has singled out residential customers with solar to pay a monthly fee for reducing their electricity consumption - hindering energy choice in Utah to maintain its monopoly.
  • A fee for rooftop solar while Utah's solar industry is in its infancy will harm Utah's growing solar market and unfairly prevent investment in a much needed nonpolluting energy resource.
  • Instead of working proactively to modify their current business model to accommodate a more efficient, more resilient, and more state-of-the-art energy system, RMP is not only trying to keep us stagnant, but to take us steps backwards.
  •  

    In January, RMP requested permission from the Utah Public Service Commission to:

  • Increase rates by 4% (5% for residential customers)
  • Increase the residential monthly Customer Charge to $8.00 per month
  • Increase the residential monthly Minimum Bill to $15.00 per month
  • Create a "Net Metering Facilities Charge" of $4.65 per month
  •  

    RMP has never presented any evidence to the Commission to demonstrate that the costs of rooftop solar customers outweigh the benefits provided by those customers. RMP's proposed solar fee is based entirely on reduced consumption (lost revenues) from customers with rooftop solar. Although plenty of non-solar customers use less energy than other customers, RMP has singled out solar customers to pay a special fee for reducing their electricity consumption.

    Who Benefits from Solar Energy?

    We all benefit from the clean energy our neighbors invest in and the emissions-free electricity they provide to the grid:

  • Customers: homes, schools and businesses can lower their energy bills.;
  • Non-solar customers: more rooftop solar means utilities have to invest less in power plants and other expensive infrastructure, savings they can pass on to ALL their customers.;
  • Local jobs and local economy: Rooftop solar support hundreds of local Utah jobs and keeps energy dollars invested right in your own community rather than the pockets of big energy companies.;
  • Taxpayers: lower energy bills for schools and other public agencies that go solar means more dollars available for other services;
  • Everyone: improved air quality, energy security, public health and economic opportunity.         
  • Reasons to Oppose New Fee for Rooftop Solar

  • Our rate structure should encourage Utahns to reduce their energy consumption and invest in new markets, including through personal investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
  • Rooftop solar provides local governments, businesses and citizens with a vehicle for personal choice; an added fee on rooftop solar threatens personal choice and stifles the growth of new markets for the sake of monopoly profits.
  • Utilities shouldn’t impose charges that limit the resourcefulness of Utahns.
  • As Utahns, we are being asked to do more voluntary actions to improve our poor air quality. Rooftop solar allows Utahns to take voluntary actions and make personal investments to improve air quality for everyone. Utahns want more tools in their clean air toolbox, not less.
  • Investing in rooftop solar aligns our actions with our values and accomplishes many of our shared goals: cleaner air, increased self-reliance, greater energy independence, reduced risk from rising fuel costs and more local jobs.
  • To add a fee for rooftop solar while Utah's solar industry is in its infancy will harm Utah's growing solar market and prevent investment in an extraordinary energy resource.
  • Rate Case Timeline

    The Rate Case is comprised of three sections, each with a unique timeline:
    Phase 1A - Cost of Capital
    Phase 1B - Revenue Requirement
    Phase 2 - Cost Allocation and Rate Design

    PHASE 1A – Cost of Capital/Rate of Return Issues: In this phase of the general rate case, the Public Service Commission will determine Rocky Mountain Power’s allowed “Return on Equity,” or how much the Utility should earn on its capital investments (transmission lines and power plants, for example).

    Thursday, April 17
    Direct  testimony                     
        In January, RMP proposed a return on equity of 10%. Other parties proposed lower ROEs—between 9.2 and 9.25%. Utah Clean Energy did not file testimony in this phase of the docket. 
    Thursday, May 15
    Rebuttal testimony
      Interveners (formal parties) will respond to other parties’ positions.
    Thursday, May 22
    Surrebuttal testimony
         This is the final round of testimony in response to other filed information.
    Thursday, May 29
    Hearing     
      Commissioners and other parties will have an opportunity to cross examine expert witnesses.


    PHASE 1B – Revenue Requirement
    : In this phase of the proceeding, the Commission will determine the amount of money (more or less) that RMP can collect from its ratepayers. Parties take a deep dive into the decision-making process of the utility to see if its investments were prudent.

    Thursday, May 1
    Direct testimony
      RMP proposed a revenue increase of over $70 million. Other parties proposed revenue decreases of around $5 million.
    Wednesday, June 4
    Rebuttal testimony
        Intervenors will respond to other parties’ positions.
    Monday, June 23
    Surrebuttal testimony
      This is the final round of testimony in response to other filed information.
    Monday, June 30
    Hearing
      Commissioners and other parties will have an opportunity to cross examine expert witnesses.

     
    PHASE II – Cost Allocation and Rate Design
    : In this portion of the docket, the Commission will determine whether to enact a solar fee and address other customer “rate design” issues.

    Thursday, May 22
    Direct testimony           
      RMP proposed changes to the structure of residential electricity rates: increase the monthly customer charge, increase the minimum bill and charge solar customers a monthly fee. Other parties including Utah Clean Energy will file testimony showing why solar customers should not be charged additional fees.
    Thursday, June 26
    Rebuttal testimony
        Intervenors will respond to other parties’ positions. 
    Thursday, July 17
    Surrebuttal testimony is due                    
      This is the final round of testimony in response to other filed information.
    Monday, July 28 – August 1
    Hearing
      Commissioners and other parties will have an opportunity to cross examine expert witnesses.

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