Local Governments Consider Changes to Solar Net Metering Policies

Local Governments Consider Changes to Solar Net Metering Policies
24 January 2017

Utilities across the country are grappling with a changing energy landscape as technologies like rooftop solar grow in popularity. In addition to Utah's largest utility, Rocky Mountain Power's proposed changes to net metering rates, several local governments with municipal utilities have been reviewing their own net metering policies with mixed results.  As your voice for clean enery solutions, Utah Clean Energy has been working with local governments and municipal utilities to develop net metering policies that encourage more clean, solar energy. Below is a roundup of all the changes underway within Utah's local utilities.

Resources for Municipal Utilities

Utah Clean Energy and the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP)®, a leading expert on the evolution of the power sector, have led a series of workshops to help municipal utilities and local policymakers understand and address the growth of rooftop solar technologies. Slides from each workshop are available for download.

Workshop #1: Grid Impacts of Distributed Solar: Download the slides

 RAP Workshop 1 thumbnail

Workshop #2: Solar Valuation and Cost/Benefit Analyses: Download the slides

RAP Workshop 2 thumbnail

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These workshops are supported by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, the Energy Department supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Learn more at energy.gov/sunshot.

Disclaimer: These resources were prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.

Bountiful

Bountiful City has implemented a Feed in Tariff (FIT) for new solar customers. Also known as a "buy-all, sell-all" arrangement, a FIT requires rooftop solar customers to sell all of the electricity they produce to the utility. In this case, Bountiful solar residents must to purchase electricity from the utility at the retail rate, and sell the solar energy produced by their system at a reduced rate. The FIT will take effect June 1, 2017.

  • The new rates are as follows
    • Midnight – noon: 4 cents / kWh
    • Noon –  4PM: 6 cents / kWh
    • 4PM – Midnight: retail rate (9.25 cents / kWh)

Lehi City

On May 9, the Lehi City Council approved a new solar policy which allows City customers to sell solar power to the City at a fixed price through a Feed in Tariff. Smaller solar installations (less than 10 kW) can receive 5 cents per kilowatt-hour for the power they generate, and larger solar installations (10 kW – 1,000 kW) can receive 4 cents per kilowatt-hour. The new policy also allows the City Council to adjust the price up or down in the future. The new policy does not impact Lehi City’s currently available net metering program, which is available for solar installations up to 10 kilowatts.

Provo Power

In late 2016, the Provo City Council formed the Solar & Energy Committee, tasked with making a recommendation regarding changes to net metering. Utah Clean Energy was asked to serve on the Committee, along with two City Councilmen, the Director of Provo Power, and several community members. After several weeks of discussion, the Committee voted on changes to Provo’s net metering program which were subsequently approved by the City Council.

Utah Clean Energy served on the Solar & Energy Committee but abstained from voting on the new recommendations. It is important to fully evaluate the long-term costs and benefits of the clean energy that solar customers export to the grid when considering rate design for rooftop solar customers, and the Committee’s timeline did not allow for a full cost-benefit analysis. However, the Committee’s recommended approach will send price signals to encourage solar customers to make smart energy choices, does not single out solar customers for increased fixed charges, and ensures that only the incremental costs of serving a given customer are collected through the fixed customer charge.

As such, the Committee’s recommendations represent a significant improvement compared to net metering changes Provo implemented on October 4 2016, which would have significantly hindered solar development in Provo.  Click here to read Utah Clean Energy's Letter to Provo City Council

Kaysville City

The Kaysville City Council has been considering changes to net metering rules since June 2015, and recently formed a Power Commission composed of Kaysville residents to increase citizen involvement in the process. We are pleased with Kaysville’s collaborative approach to solving this problem and the City’s efforts to involve both solar industry representatives and Kaysville residents in the process. Kaysville Power Commission meetings and minutes are open and available to members of the public.

Heber Power and Light

Heber Power and Light offers net metering for rooftop solar customers and a Feed in Tariff option for larger solar projects. Read more.

St. George

St. George compensates rooftop solar customers using a "buy-all, sell-all" arrangement through which solar customers are charged the full retail rate for all the electrictity they purchase from the utility and compensated at a reduced rate for the all the electricity their solar panels generate. Solar customers are also charged a monthly fixed fee that is based on the size of the solar installation. Read more.

Payson

Payson city compensates solar customers for the energy they export to the grid at a reduced rate, compared to the retail price of electricity. Learn more.

Santa Clara

Santa Clara compensates solar customers for the energy they export to the grid at a reduced rate, compared to the retail price of electricity, and charges a fixed montly fee that is based on the size of the solar installation. Learn more.

Murray

Murray City is considering changes to their net metering program.

Logan

Logan City Power & Light offers a net metering program.

Washington

Washington City offers a net metering program.