Solar backers speak against power company's rate change plan

Published on August 11, 2017 at 02:05PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah regulators have heard testimony about a proposed electricity rate change for people with home solar panels that power company officials argue they need to maintain the state’s grid but solar advocates claim would cause bills to skyrocket.

Dozens of people lined up Wednesday to speak with state regulators considering the plan from Rocky Mountain Power. It would affect people who push extra power back into the grid when it’s sunny and draw from it when their panels are not making enough electricity for their homes. The process is known as net metering.

Tax rebates and the decreasing cost of solar panels have helped the industry proliferate in sunny Utah, but solar companies said Rocky Mountain’s plan would hurt the sector by making solar power production impossible for middle class homeowners.

The Utah Public Service Commission is set to continue hearings on the issue next week, though two sides have also been working with the state to find a compromise.

Rocky Mountain power spokesman Jon Cox said solar customers are not covering their fair share of power production costs because the company now pays full retail price to buy extra power from homes with solar panels, rather than the wholesale price it pays to commercial solar farms.