Following the example of its backward-thinking neighbors (see: Nevada, Arizona), Utah’s investor-owned utility Rocky Mountain Power (another Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary), has proposed a series of fixed charges on rooftop PV owners, which would have similarly disastrous effects on the rooftop solar industry in that state.
Under its plan, residential panel owners would be subject to three monthly charges: a $15 fixed fee, a $9.02-per-kilowatt-hour levy on consumers’ peak monthly electricity use and 3.81-cent-per-kilowatt charge on total energy use. It also proposes a $60 fee for residential solar applications.
Well, as an update to that update, this rate change request was suspended by Rocky Mountain Power. The scene in Utah over the weekend:
According to KSL.com, the solar industry was advocating for such a move, but in the end, Rocky Mountain Power decided on its own that more discussion was needed and requested its filing be suspended.
“Over the course of the past week, the company has been involved in preliminary discussions with stakeholders to engage in further dialogue and explore mutually acceptable resolutions,” wrote Jeffrey K. Larsen, vice president of regulation for Rocky Mountain Power in the request to the commission. Based on the current status of the meetings and in an effort to foster further discussion, the company recommends the commission exercise its statutory prerogative to suspend the tariff filing.”
A month ago, Rocky Mountain Power proposed a trifecta of new charges for solar customers, arguing that its nonsolar customer base is subsidizing solar energy producers at a cost of $6.5 million a year. While Rocky Mountain Power did not seek to have any of those new charges apply to current rooftop solar customers, it did want anyone who buys a system after Dec. 9 to be on notice that those charges could apply.
The solar industry said that rushed Dec. 9 deadline created a chilling effect on customers, chasing them away because of confusion over what the end result may look like on their utility bill. Members of the Public Service Commission will not weigh the proposed rate changes until August, setting aside a weeklong hearing to hear the arguments for and against new fees for solar customers.
— Solar Builder magazine