Residents and power company debate proposed fee for solar panel users

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SALT LAKE CITY -- People living in a Glendale neighborhood who use solar power are upset over a proposed fee for solar panel users.

Those residents said the proposed fee is unfair, while energy regulators argue customers who don't generate their own power are picking up the tab for those who do.

People living in the Wasatch Commons Community in Salt Lake City have been benefiting from the use of solar power since panels were installed in 2013.

They provide electricity to parking areas, paths and their community center.

“Since then, we’ve had several residents that have put solar on their house,” said resident Kathy Albury. “We have one resident that has put up a solar hot water heater on his unit. And then another unit has solar panels on the west side of their house that provides all the electricity.”

But Albury said she is worried the benefit may come at a cost.

Wednesday, she joined neighbors and community leaders as they called on state regulators to continue providing fair and affordable access to solar power.

Rocky Mountain Power is looking at adding a fee.

“Right now we’re asking the commission to determine what is a fair value for those customers to pay for the wires and the poles that still provide electricity to them?” said Paul Murphy, a RMP Spokesman.

But Albury said that proposal doesn’t sit well with her and other residents.

“I’m really frustrated that they’re making this effort,” she said. "I think it shows a real lack of caring for our air and the stuff that we're breathing.”

Rep. Angela Romero, D-District 26, represents the neighborhood in Glendale, and she said solar power is part of “the new wave” and she believes the proposed fee would deter potential solar users from making the switch.

“Regardless of what your zip code is, it’s important to invest in that because it’s investing in your health,” Romero said.

Residents said Rocky Mountain Power is levying a fee to increase profits, but the utility company says right now customers who don't generate their own power are subsidizing solar panel users.

“Rocky Mountain Power will not see an increase or decrease in profits because of this,” Murphy said. “We just want to make sure that all customers, all customers are treated fairly."

Customers may know by the end of the year if a fee will be approved by the Utah Public Service Commission.

5 comments

  • boom

    so you want to charge a fee.. for putting power back into the grid? wow, greed really does blind doesn’t it

  • Heyheyhey

    Can I get the media and the state/government to bully Rocky Mountain power into paying me the money my daughter was paying me for her room and board before she moved out? I really needed that profit. If they won’t make her pay me can I make the rest of my neighborhood pay me because they drive on the same road that my house is on and I pay taxes for that road?
    Extortion is against the law, Rocky Mountain Power! This is a shakedown. Rocky Mountain Power is trying to get someone else to pay for the prophets they’re losing when people buy solar panels. That’s bull. This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as them losing business. Before you know it we’re going to all be off the grid.

  • Dave Stephens

    Rocky Mointain Power is pitting us against each other. Every user pays a connection fee, whether we use power or not. Secondly, at the end of the fiscal year, Rocky Mountain Power keeps any unused credit generated by solar. What do they do with that power? I’m guessing Rocky Mountain Power sells it, just guessing. Rocky Mountain Power is not sharing all the facts and people are buying into this notion of equity, ridiculous.

  • djgill301

    The profit making utilities want to make sure they continue to own the power generation. Consumers generating there own power does not fit into the generate and delivery profit model. The utilities are distorting the debate to make it appear individuals installing solar panels are the bad guys. The only bad thing about individuals installing their own solar panels is that it cuts into the utilities corporate profits. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway being the parent company and largest shareholder of Wasatch Power.

  • Carl

    “Residents said Rocky Mountain Power is levying a fee to increase profits, but the utility company says right now customers who don’t generate their own power are subsidizing solar panel users.” This needs a huge elaboration. How are customers who don’t generate their own power are subsidizing solar panel users? Everyone pays the connection fee.

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