Rocky Mountain Power wants net metering customers to pay 'fair share'
David Quinn, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — The state's largest power supplier is asking some customers-turned-electricity producers to pay a little more for the privilege.
Last week, Rocky Mountain Power announced a rate increase request of $76.3 million, or 4 percent, from the Utah Public Service Commission. If approved, the typical residential electricity bill would rise about $3.73 per month.
The request also included a $4.25 monthly fee for net metering customers. Net metering is a service to an electric consumer under which electric energy generated by that consumer from an eligible on-site generating facility — such as solar panels and wind turbines — and delivered to the local distribution facilities may be used to offset electric energy provided by the utility to the consumer.
The utility claims that under current state regulations, the company is required to credit customers for excess generation at the full retail rate even though the customer electric generation does not include the capital investment of infrastructure, voltage lines or the utility's overall power generation.
Rocky Mountain Power estimates the utility's per kilowatt cost of electricity is slightly less than 11.2 cents, while net metering customers' cost was just under 2.6 cents per kilowatt. Still, the utility is forced to credit the customer the much higher amount for excess energy.
Rocky Mountain Power President and CEO Rich Walje told the Deseret News Editorial Board on Tuesday that while the company embraces evolving customer expectations for choice, the issue needs to be addressed before it becomes a real burden for other Utah customers who choose not to participate in net metering.
The proposed monthly fee would help offset some of the fixed costs to both supply electric service to net metering customers and receive the extra power they produce, he said.
Walje said other reasons for the increase request include higher costs to maintain reliable electric service such as the new Lake Side 2 natural gas power plant, new high-voltage transmission lines and equipment upgrades to comply with environmental regulations.
By law, the Utah Public Service Commission has 180 days to review the rate case. Any new rates would take effect in September.
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