A Sensible Approach to Energy

The Governor’s Energy Development Summit is June 3-4, at the Salt Palace Convention Center.

It looks to be an exciting and informative event, including sessions, trade show and pre-reception tours of the Utah Geological Survey’s Core Research Lab and the University of Utah’s Energy and Geoscience Institute and Renewable Energy Demonstration Lab. Click here for the full agenda.

Speaking of energy, there’s been talk among some environmental groups and Utahns who take exception with the residential tariff proposed by Rocky Mountain Power for its customers who generate their own power. Because of the tariff, Rocky Mountain Power President and CEO Rich Walje says some groups have questioned the utility’s commitment to renewable energy. The proposed $4.25 monthly charge for residential net metering customers in Utah is not a penalty, he explains, but rather a step to promote fairness for all customers, so that prices reflect the actual cost of providing local infrastructure and avoid one group of customers having to subsidize another.

Rich says customers who generate their own power are not paying their share of fixed costs incurred by Rocky Mountain Power for expenses to build, operate and maintain the electrical infrastructure. These customers have lower energy charges, but the actual fixed costs of serving them are not represented on their electric bills, “despite their reliance on continuous access to the power grid.” Instead, he says, their costs are subsidized through higher electricity prices for other customers. The goal with the additional fee for net metering and an additional custom service charge for all residential customers in Utah is to “level the playing field by tying less of the fixed costs that exist for all customers to the amount of energy used in a given month.”

No organization in Utah has done more than PacifiCorp to make renewable energy resources available to customers. The company has operated hydroelectric plants for more than a century, owns the first geothermal plant to be developed outside of California and facilitated construction of the First Wind project in Milford and the Spanish Fork Wind Park. The company’s Utah Solar Incentive Program provides $50 million over five years to help customers install solar panels on their homes and businesses, and in partnership with its Blue Sky customers, the utility is building a solar project in Utah that will initially produce enough energy for 500 homes. There is much more Rocky Mountain Power is doing in renewable energy, but as Rich points out, many groups are urging the utility to do whatever it takes to keep energy costs down and power reliable. That requires the most sensible energy policies for all of its customers.