The battle for rooftop solar is coming down to the wire, with just a few months until a final decision on whether Rocky Mountain Power can sharply raise rates on new solar customers.
So much has been happening, as HEAL and our allies fight to make sure that affordable clean energy is an option for Utah families. I want to show you what your support for HEAL has accomplished. (If you need a quick recap on how Rocky Mountain Power is trying to stifle rooftop solar growth, click here to view this Salt Lake Tribune article.)
Before we deep dive though, if you want to register your support for solar, please take a moment, click here, and let the governor and Public Service Commission know you want them to keep rooftop solar rates affordable.
Here’s one key way HEAL has been fighting for solar: We have put together a detailed study to convince the Public Service Commission (the state body which oversees Rocky Mountain Power) about the merits of rooftop solar. We are proud to unveil the final product!
The report was authored by expert staff in Cambridge, Mass. at Synapse Energy Economics, a research & consulting firm. Thanks to your generosity, HEAL was able to bring to the solar fight not just the decades of knowledge of these utility experts, but also a local attorney to help us frame the argument for the PSC.
You can review the complete study by clicking here, but we wanted to share its main points.
Let’s take a ride into some energy policy.
1. Rocky Mountain Power's analysis neglects short and long-term benefits of rooftop solar.
In the utility's study to the Public Service Commission to justify rate increases on rooftop solar, the computer model they usedoes not include many of the benefits rooftop solar provides. As a result, Rocky Mountain Power's study midleadingly shows the costs of rooftop solar far outweigh the benefits.
2. With more rooftop solar there is less need to build new fossil fuel plants!
Rocky Mountain Power's Integrated Resource Planning process (a big study done every 2 years projecting power supply and demand) shows that if there is enough rooftop solar, there is no need to build more power plants. In sum, the utility itself found, but failed to mention when it came to determining solar’s benefits, that widespread adoption of rooftop solar can avoid 455 MW of new electricity demand --enough to power thousands of homes.
3. If Rocky Mountain Power analyzed coal plants the way it does rooftop solar, the facilties would fail its own “cost/benefit” test!
It is no secret that the price of solar panels has dropped remarkably the last few years. What the utility does not want you to know is renewables are now cheaper than coal and their own modeling shows it.
4. Rooftop solar avoids harmful air emissions
At first glance, you are probably saying “duh.” But, quantifying the cost of harmful emissions from coal plants is pretty hard. Luckily HEAL's experts determined solar can help avoid almost $100 million in health-related costs over the next 20 years.
5. Rooftop solar can avoid environmental compliance costs
A coal plant is a simple machine. For decades, a boiler burns the coal to produce steam, that steam spins a generator to create electricity, and a smokestack is where all the emissions get pumped out of. If you look at a coal plant today there is a lot more equipment, almost all of it to clean up the emissions from burning coal. That equipment is not cheap. If you have enough rooftop solar to reduce the need to generate coal power, ratepayers do not need to pay as much compliance equipment.
If you want more on our findings, you can look at the study here. Or, just let me know if you have any questions!
However, this study won’t make nearly as big of a difference without your voice to help support it. So please take a moment to send a message to the governor’s office and Public Service Commission and let them know you want to see all the benefits of solar counted. Click here to be taken to our action alert where you can send a pre-written message or (and much more effective) write your own message.
Onward and upward!
Michael Shea | Senior Policy Associate