Utah Solar Panels and Net Metering: What You Should Know
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Since solar power systems don’t gather energy when the sun is down, solar homes need a storage device. A history of high battery backup prices has made net and tariff metering the norm for solar customers.
Federal storage incentives have already made storage an option for many. As time passes, storage devices will become even more affordable. However, until then, most have to stay tied to the grid to make solar viable.
Net metering in each city plays a significant role in the affordability of residential solar. Let’s review Utah’s net metering landscape and the grid-tied options available for Utahans now and in the future.
Utah’s Intricate Net Metering Landscape
When a Utah utility company gives its solar customers a one-to-one rate for the excess energy they export back onto the grid, it’s called net metering. Ideally, net metering makes all energy sources worth the same per watt.
Some utilities pay cash for the excess energy produced. However, most utilities credit excess solar to the next utility bill.
Excess solar-generated energy credits often roll from one month to the next. They can also roll over from year-to-year, but this practice isn’t as common.
Although Rocky Mountain Power has changed, many Utah utilities still use net metering. It is worth reviewing your electric provider to see if they have a net metering program.
Net Metering Programs in Utah
Rocky Mountain Power provides power for most of Utah. Although this utility has changed from one-to-one net metering, and as of 2020, has proposed further metering changes for solar customers, other Utah utilities still use net metering. It’s worth asking your electricity provider to see whether they have a net metering program.
Rocky Mountain Power Net Metering Changes
Since Rocky Mountain Power’s net metering change, only those who had solar installed before November 15, 2017, have net metering now. These individuals have 1:1 kWh credit for the energy they overproduce.
Rocky Mountain Power’s Schedule 135 outlines the net metering program for those locked into historical rates. This document covers the monthly billing minimum for being connected to the grid and 13 other special conditions, which you can learn about at the above link.
Tariff Metering Through Rocky Mountain Power
Tariff metering or time-of-day usage involves dividing the day, month, and year into tariff slots. Through tariff metering, customers pay more for the energy used during peak demand times. The Rocky Mountain Power Transitional Program has a similar setup to tariff metering.
Rocky Mountain Power credits the power bill when the array produces more energy than used. Those in the transitional program have their meter measured every 15 minutes instead of at the end of each month.
Transitional customers receive credit for excess generation at 90 percent of the retail value. While not a one-to-one credit anymore, it beats the tariff metering rates that many utilities offer.
Transition and Post Transition RMP Customers
Given the work of Utah Solar Energy Associations, Rocky Mountain Power’s initiative to harm the Utah solar industry came to a halt. The combined effort of concerned Utahans and solar professionals gave rise to the Transition Program.
Rocky Mountain Power solar customers under the Transition Program have a fixed rate structure until 2032. These solar customers also do not have any additional fees.
Those who miss the deadline for the Transitional Program, however, may not have these same rate guarantees. The Rocky Mountain Power proposal, currently under consideration, requests a decrease in compensation for excess solar generation from 9.2 to 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, which would cut payments to these customers by over 80 percent.
What Interested Homeowners Should Do
If the Utah Public Service Commission passes these proposed rates, it will kill the savings solar offers for post-transitional customers. However, the time to sign up for the transitional program hasn’t passed. If these customers add home batteries and get federal solar tax credits, they will save significantly and have nothing to worry about when the transitional rate ends in 2032.