https://www.census-charts.com/HF/Utah.html Quick intro before the letter: Rocky Mountain Power has proposed a major reduction in solar net metering rates. This would be devastating to the solar industry in Utah going forward. Those who already have solar would be grandfathered in for quite some time, but new people wanting to get solar would be impacted in a way that would make solar very unattractive. If you are thinking about getting solar, we strongly encourage you to get a bid today so we can help get you grandfathered in.

For the future of solar in Utah, we encourage everyone to submit an email to the Public Service Commission (PSC) at [email protected] with subject line, “Docket No. 17-035-61” encouraging them to reject this proposed change to net metering.

As the CEO of Smart Wave Solar, my letter to the Utah PSC is below.

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Dear members of the Utah Public Service Commission:

Sources for my claims are listed below.

Many parts of the US have been reviewing solar net metering over the last several years. Most states still offer one to one net metering, or very close to it. A few states have experimented with reduced net metering only to experience massive job loss, protests, and even lawsuits. After experiencing major problems, Nevada and Maine have been the first to roll back the solar-harming net metering changes they had implemented previously. Other states have wisely waited to collect more data before making changes. Montana and New York chose to postpone net metering changes within the last year. Florida and Arizona both voted against net metering reductions in the last few weeks. Three major deciding factors for why they voted this way: 1). The amount of electricity being shared with the grid from solar is still too negligible to worry about “cost shifting” yet. 2). At a time when Covid-19 is rocking our economy, why cripple the solar industry and kill a bunch of jobs? 3). The benefits of solar are massive to our economy, consumers, and the environment.

Make no mistake, the net metering changes proposed by Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) will almost completely kill the solar industry in Utah. With federal and state tax credits stepping down again in 2021, even a slight reduction in net metering rates in Utah could be devastating.

Solar saves people a lot of money, it’s great for the environment, it’s great for the job market, and it provides consumers with an option instead of having to buy electricity from a power company with a monopoly. Mark Ruffalo (amongst other celebrities and politicians who showed up for a protest in Nevada) said it best: “I’m here to fight for solar today… This is reverse Robin Hood, taking from the poor and giving to the monopoly.”

Utility companies’ main argument for net metering reductions is “cost shifting.” Saying that solar customers aren’t paying their fair share to maintain the grid. Studies have shown that cost shifting is negligible until there is 10% market penetration with solar (and Utah is well below that number). Even at 10% penetration, the cost shifting ends up being about 1/2 of a penny per kWh of electricity. Instead of talking about cost shifting, the real question we should be asking is “Why, with their monopoly, is RMP allowed to charge significantly more for electricity than the smaller municipal power companies in Utah?” The premium RMP is charging compared to other Utah power companies is often 1-5 cents per kWh. RMP has also disclosed that they are able to buy electricity for 1.5 cents per kWh wholesale, but they are charging 8.8 – 14.4 cents per kWh, as much as a 960% markup. Why are we talking about a fraction of a penny for cost shifting? Any minuscule cost shifting taking place right now sounds like a small thing to ask of RMP in exchange for the monopoly they enjoy, and the premium prices they are being allowed to charge.

As the CEO of Smart Wave Solar (operating exclusively in Utah) I speak on behalf of our 58 employees and their families (along with the other 7107 people working in the solar industry in Utah and their families) when I ask the Utah Public Service Commission to not make Utah a net metering guinea pig. We strongly urge you to not only reject the proposed changes, but change net metering back to one to one. At a time when the economy and job market have been rocked by Covid-19, this isn’t the time to hurt our local economy further by crippling the solar industry. Instead, we ask that you reevaluate net metering again in two years when there is more data and better precedents throughout the country.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Ryan Stucki – CEO of Smart Wave Solar

Sources:

Most states still offer one to one net metering or close to it:

https://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/2020/03/which-states-offer-net-metering/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_metering

Nevada and Maine’s terrible experience with reduced net metering:

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2016/01/13/1000-nevadans-protest-retroactive-changes-to-net-metering_100022773/

https://www.maine.gov/governor/mills/news/governor-mills-signs-legislation-restore-net-metering-incentivize-growth-solar-power-maine

Why other states have wisely decided to wait to change net metering:

https://electrek.co/2020/09/23/egeb-what-happened-at-floridas-solar-net-metering-meeting/

https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2019/montana-public-service-commission-rejects-demand-charge-implements-lower-rate-for-new-solar-customers

https://www.utilitydive.com/news/new-york-adopts-net-metering-alternative-delays-implementation-due-to-covi/581812/

Cost shifting isn’t a factor in Utah yet:

https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2017/07/12/net-metering-is-dead-long-live-net-metering/

5% market penetration for solar:

Roughly 41,000 homes with solar and a total of 701,000 homes

https://www.census-charts.com/HF/Utah.html

 

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