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Public Service Commission approves expansion of Rocky Mountain Power's solar program

Published: Thursday, Oct. 4 2012 12:38 p.m. MDT

The Public Service Commission of Utah approved Rocky Mountain Power's request to offer a significantly expanded solar incentive program that will support 60 megawatts of new solar energy.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Public Service Commission of Utah approved Rocky Mountain Power's request to offer a significantly expanded solar incentive program that will support 60 megawatts of new solar energy.

The expansion calls for more than six times the amount of solar currently installed statewide and could generate enough energy to power approximately 8,750 Utah homes.  

"The uncontested evidence supports approval of the program," the commission order states. "The program is cost effective and is supported by (Rocky Mountain Power), as well as by all participants representing customers and environmental interests."

Utah Clean Energy, a local energy nonprofit group, championed the effort to expand the small pilot program.

"Not only is this program beneficial for ratepayers and Utah's economy, this program will attract new investment opportunities, stimulate new economic activity and support more energy choices for Utahns," said Sara Baldwin, Utah Clean Energy senior policy and regulatory associate.

The program is estimated to provide approximately $50 million in rebate incentives for projects built over the five-year period from 2013 to 2017 — more than 50 times the size of the initial pilot incentive program that began in 2007.

"The beauty about rooftop solar is that it seamlessly couples with energy efficiency, thereby giving Utahns long-term energy savings and energy security through two homegrown, abundant and stable energy resources," Baldwin said.

The expanded solar incentive program is expected to begin accepting applications in January 2013 via lottery system.

"I applaud the unique and consumer-friendly funding plan behind this effort that will both greatly expand our solar resources and lay the groundwork for a sustainable future," Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker said. "As our growing population creates new demands on existing power resources, ensuring and protecting our quality of life here in Utah requires that we engage in the pursuit of clean energy production now."

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