Net Metering Changes for Rocky Mountain Power Solar Customers Being Discussed


Last November, Rocky Mountain Power asked the Public Service Commission to approve a three-part billing rate change in the net metering structure for solar customers. Net metering is a program allowing homeowners with solar panels to sell their excess solar energy back to the utility company.

In a statement last year, Rocky Mountain Power revealed the results of a study in which it discovered, “A typical rooftop solar customer underpays their actual cost of service by about $400 per year. This cost shift currently amounts to $6.5 million each year to other residential customers and is forecast to grow to as much as $78 million annually if the rate is not addressed. Over the next 20 years, the cost shift to other customers is estimated to be about $667 million.”

According to the 2016 statement, residential net metering customers were receiving bill savings worth approximately 10.5 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity they produced even though the company could purchase the same amount of electricity from large solar farms for about three to four cents. Thus, the proposed rate change that would result in bill savings of about 7.1 cents per kilowatt-hour.

On the flip side, advocates for the state’s growing solar industry said the plan and its associated fees could be “the most regressive rate structure we have seen in any state.” They say that Rocky Mountain Power’s original proposal penalizes energy efficiency and is unfair to low- and middle-income households that might invest in solar power.

In June, as both sides were preparing to be heard by the Public Service Commission, the Utah Office of Consumer Services and the Division of Public Utilities teamed up to introduce an alternative two-part proposal.

Under this third-party plan, Rocky Mountain Power would discard its net-metering program altogether and treat residential solar customers as if they were small-scale power-generating contractors. Rocky Mountain Power would not charge or pay anyone for electricity generated and used by these households. When solar households need to buy electricity, they will pay for kilowatt hours, just as any other customer.

Both sides are still bound by confidentiality agreements, but it appears as if this third party alternative might be a good compromise. Rocky Mountain Power confirmed on Friday that it would “be supportive of the framework put forward by other parties.”  a spokesman for the company continued, “We are hopeful that we can find a path forward that is sustainable for all of our customers.”


There are a series of proceedings before the Public Service Commission set to begin Sept. 18. Rocky Mountain Power is prepared to argue its original three-part rate change proposal if current negotiations fall flat.





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