Does Rocky Mountain Power support solar energy?

Yes. Rocky Mountain Power is purchasing solar energy in Utah for customers and offers the Subscriber Solar program, which provides solar energy with no rooftop panels required. We also support a sustainable net metering policy and believe customers should be able to install solar power on their homes.

What is Rocky Mountain Power doing to support solar energy?

We support solar energy in three big ways:

  1. By connecting Utahns to over 3.3 million solar panels through solar farm power purchases right here in Utah.
  2. By providing funding for 118 local solar projects in Utah through the Blue Sky program.
  3. By providing access to solar power for those who are unable or cannot afford to install solar panels (such as renters or those without enough roof space) through the Subscriber Solar program.

What change did Rocky Mountain Power propose for new net metering customers?

On November 9, 2016, Rocky Mountain Power proposed an updated rate for rooftop solar customers for new net metering customers. The company supports keeping existing customers on current rates.

The proposed change will go through the Utah Public Service Commission’s public processes and ultimately be decided by regulators. It is intended to accommodate the exponential growth of rooftop solar in Utah, while preventing a significant cost shift to other customers who can’t or choose not to have their own rooftop systems.

Read our net metering FAQs for more information.

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Does Rocky Mountain Power offer solar rebates?

We are providing around $36 million for solar rebates. Currently, the rebates are fully subscribed. The federal and state tax incentives are still available.

Are solar panel owners still using the electric grid?

Yes, solar panel owners still rely on the power grid more than 99% of the time. The majority of the time they are either using energy from the grid or supplying energy back into the grid, essentially using it as a battery.

I am considering rooftop panels on my home to hedge against future energy price increases. How much have electric rates increased historically?

Here in Utah, energy prices have increased by an annual average of only 0.6 percent since 1986.energy-price-chart

How much do solar panels cost?

There are numerous factors that go into the cost of a solar array for your home including the size of your home, the direction your roof faces (south vs. north), technology, installation costs and more. Recently, we have seen costs in Utah range from $17,500 to $22,000 for a 5-kilowatt system, which is an average size.

We recommend speaking with at least three qualified solar installers to understand pricing and the various technologies available.

What should I consider before installing solar panels?

Check out our rooftop solar checklist guide for detailed information.

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It’s also important to pick a reputable solar company and understand the terms of what’s being offered. In 2016, law enforcement officials issued a warning for consumers to be aware of misleading contracts from rooftop solar companies.

Is my roof suitable for solar panels?

About 60% of roofs are suitable for solar panels. There are many variables in determining if a roof is suitable for a solar system, but the three main factors include:

  1. Orientation (south- or west-facing)
  2. Shading
  3. Roof condition

A qualified solar installer will be able to determine if your roof is suitable for solar.

If I have solar panels installed, how will this affect my roof?

Current solar mounting hardware and techniques should cause no more harm or risk to your roof than any other ventilation duct or roof penetration. It is important to ask a solar installer about the penetrations that will be needed on your roof, their method of waterproofing and warranties for leaks.

Will rooftop solar work if the power goes out?

No, solar systems are set up to shut off automatically if the power goes out in order to protect our maintenance crews who might be working to fix the problem.

When does the federal tax credit for solar panels expire?

The 30% solar tax credit has been extended till the end of 2018. The tax credit will continue at 30% until the end of 2018 for both homeowners and businesses, and then step down over the next three years to 25%, then 20%, then 15% and then 10% in 2022.

Why is a new rate being proposed?

On November 9, 2016, Rocky Mountain Power filed with the Utah Public Service Commission proposed changes to rates for new net metering customers. The proposed rates would not take effect until after a full review by regulators which is expected to be completed in August or September. We support keeping the same rates for existing private solar customers.

What is the application fee?

A new $60 one-time application fee is proposed for inverter-based net metering customers with systems smaller than 25 kilowatts. The proposed fee would cover administrative costs. The fee for systems above 25 kilowatts would change from $50 to $75 and the “per-kilowatt” charge would change from $1 to $1.50. The applications for systems above 25 kilowatts that require more analysis would change from $100 to $150 and the “per-kilowatt” charge would change from $2 to $3.

What does this mean for customers?

The average energy bill for a typical customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month is $114 per month. Here is the difference for the same customer with private rooftop solar offsetting half of the household energy use:

  • $55/month – Average bill under current net metering rate
  • $74/month – Average bill under new net metering rate

A typical new residential net metering customer can still save about $40 per month (or 35%) compared to an average customer who isn’t net metering. At the same time, the proposed rate eliminates the subsidy paid by customers without rooftop solar:

averagecustomerbill_rmp

Won’t this change kill solar in Utah?

Definitely not. Customers with rooftop solar can still save money on their energy bills—about 35% compared to non-solar customers. Residential rooftop solar customers will simply be billed in a way that’s similar to business rooftop solar customers.

In addition, the vast majority of solar in Utah comes from large solar farms and not from private rooftop systems. Twenty solar farms built in Utah over past two years generate more than 8 times the energy of all rooftop systems in Utah.

Energy from large solar farms is the most cost effective way to add solar to the grid. Here is a comparison of how much it costs to purchase solar energy from different sources:

  • From large-scale solar farms: 3-4 cents per kilowatt-hour
  • From rooftop systems (at current net metering rate): 10.5 cents per kilowatt-hour
  • From rooftop systems (at new proposed net metering rate): 7.1 cents per kilowatt-hour

Rocky Mountain Power’s Subscriber Solar program allows customers to buy solar even if they rent or can’t afford rooftop solar panels or don’t want them on their homes.

  • For customers who are already signed up, solar power will begin coming to the grid in 2017. The power comes from a new solar farm near Holden, Utah.
  • The program is currently sold out, but additional solar farms are planned and will open more opportunities for Rocky Mountain Power customers to subscribe to get solar.

How does the current rate create a subsidy?

All net metering customers depend on the grid for 23.99 hours out of the day to receive power when their solar systems are not generating solar energy, and to return excess energy that they do not use.

Rocky Mountain Power is proposing the changed rates to protect all consumers. The current rate pays rooftop solar customers 2-3 times the market rate for the energy they produce. It keeps them from paying their fair share of the fixed costs like maintaining wires and poles. Right now, other customers pick up those costs.