Rocky Mountain Power Guidelines to Residential and Commercial Solar
Historical Utah power rates, associated solar facts, and what to expect from Rocky Mountain Power in the future.
Utah Power has had a steady history of energy rate increases and decreases, although there have been more price increases than decreases. In this guide to Rocky Mountain Power costs, you’ll see a breakdown of the latest price changes, experience how unstable the cost for coal power truly is, and learn what to expect from Warren Buffett over the years to come.
Rocky Mountain Power and Fossil Fuels
As a locally managed, wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company, PacifiCorp (aka Rocky Mountain Power) is a leading western U.S. energy services provider. They are the largest grid owner-operator in the West serving 1.8 million retail customers across 143,000 square miles in six western states including Utah. The state of Utah provides Rocky Mountain Power with more than 40 percent of their energy sales.
More than 75 percent of the energy produced by RMP comes from burning coal and natural gas. Emissions of harmful waste come from burning coal such as carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide sulphuric acids, arsenic and ash. Researchers now say that carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels now account for nearly 65 percent of the extra carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.1
Learn more about recent environmental degradation of coal burning in Utah.
For a short history on the origins of fossil fuels visit, energy.gov.
What if someone told you that 15 years ago you could have locked in the price you paid for gasoline? Would you have done it? Of course! Private solar power production is now providing you the ability to lock in your energy costs for the next 25+ years!
The rise in rates for power provided by Rocky Mountain Power is no secret. A rising trend in energy costs is one of the reasons why renewable energy production has developed significantly over the past two decades.
Rocky Mountain Power offers a tiered rate system with different rate schedules for both Summer and Winter. The more energy you use, the more you will pay per kWh. This is largely due to costs on the power company’s part for producing more electricity. Each season has a low, mid and high tier with rate increases for certain thresholds of energy use. Not only will solar generally pull you down from the high and mid tier, solar enables you to earn energy credit that you generate in the summer to cover the costs of high energy bills in the darker winter months. This happens through Net Metering and the Rocky Mountain Power solar program rate structure.
To see how you can counter these rising costs, see our guide to solar incentives.
Rocky Mountain Power Customer Charges Breakdown
Because most solar customers stay connected to the grid they still get a monthly power bill. A power bill for solar customers should only be a $10 connection fee. This fee can be higher however if your grid consumption is greater than your production. When you get charged for your power your monthly bill is divided into four parts. Knowledge of these charges and what fraction of your bill they consume will give you control.
Customer Service Charge
This charge covers the power company’s billing-related costs and connection to the grid. These services include mailing bills, meter maintenance, and end of month readings. This charge is about 0.4% of your overall bill. So even if you decided to go paperless it wouldn’t make that much of a difference.
Power Factor Charge
Power factor is the relationship between the amount of real power and apparent power. Real power is the capacity of the circuit to perform work. The apparent power is the amount of current and voltage used by the circuit.
If you use more power than your circuit has the capacity to perform at you will get charged for the extra power. Fluorescent lights, motors, and induction furnaces tend to increase this charge. If your power factor percentage in Utah is below 90% you will see an increase in this charge. This charge comprises 1.8% of your electric bill.
Power charges make up 49.7% of your power bill. A power charge is also known as a demand charge. This is a charge for the greatest amount of energy used in a billing cycle. Utah measures this in 15-minute intervals. Individuals with solar power can minimize costs by running appliances during the day.
This may mean you come home on your lunch break and put in a load of laundry or do the dishes. Or you can set a delay timer for your machines to run mid-day instead of the morning or night. Running your machines at different times will also decrease this charge.
Your energy charge is the amount of electricity you are pulling off the grid. This charge comprises 48.1% of your power bill. As a solar customer, this is a charge that you shouldn’t need to worry about. Your photovoltaic system should be sized to offset your regular night usage.
Wither you have solar or not conserving on electricity will help you out. One way you can cut back is through buying appliances that have lower power ratings. Using your appliances for shorter amounts of time will also help. Rocky Mountain Power has a rebate program called wattsmart. This program has incentives for certain low power rated appliances.
Net Metering – Rocky Mountain Power Rebates
Although Rocky Mountain Power does provide solar-farm-produced energy purchasing agreements, the cost does not compare to the savings provided through private solar energy production.
In order to do this you must install a solar panel system with a special meter called a “Net Meter”. Net Metering technology allows you to offset all or part energy needs. Net metering measures the difference between the electricity you buy from your power provider and the energy you generate using your own solar system.
These energy credits carry over from month to month as a rebate, but not year to year, which means you keep living with your same energy consumption levels without the guilt of damaging the environment.
The Rocky Mountain Power Net Metering website outlines the following steps for generating your own solar energy:
- Plan out your system. Ensure the design conforms to IEEE 1547, UL 1741 and other national, state and local jurisdiction rules. (We do this for you)
- Apply for building permits and apply for interconnection approval with Rocky Mountain Power. (We do this for you)
- Once you have received approval from Rocky Mountain Power and also have approved building permits, build your generation system. (We do this for you)
- Have your generation system inspected by the local Authority Having Jurisdiction and forward the completed inspection report to us. (We do this for you)
- Once we receive a copy of the approved inspection report, Rocky Mountain Power will schedule a net meter installation within 10 days. (We do this for you)
- With the net meter installed, start generating electricity. (That was easy)
Note: We do all of this for you!
At the end of 2016, the Rocky Mountain Power solar program sought to implement a massive increase in rates for net-metering customers. Luckily, the policy was not passed, but remains to be reassessed sometime in 2017, Rocky Mountain Power tried to wipe out solar by getting rid of their net metering program.
With rates very very likely to increase, now more than ever is the time to go solar in Utah! Net Metering rates will only increase for new customers, so it’s crucial to go solar now before the rate increase.
To learn more about the rate increases coming to net metering customers visit: http://utahsolarworks.com/net-metering/
To learn how to read your net meter visit: The RMP Meter Guide