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Published: Wednesday, May 28 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

If you buy into this hogwash then I have another offer to sell ya. I have beach front property in Florida.

It's a way to discourage consumers from going solar. All ALEC influenced states as seeing an uptick in these types of policies. Apparently, some people don't like the idea of folks going solar.

Curmudgeon
Salt Lake City, UT

Mr. Haycock uses the same argument used by the proponents of a surcharge on owners of fuel-efficient vehicles: everyone should bear their fair share of the cost of maintaining the grid/roads that they use. In the case of the power grid, that cost is already built into the existing rate structure. RMP and its ALEC-associated legislators want to shift more of that cost onto folks who take the initiative and bear considerable up-front expense to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. It's no wonder that the fossil-fuel industry resists that trend.

Our complex society is already full of differential utility pricing and tax policy designed to reward and incentivize some behaviors and penalize and discourage others. I say let's not penalize, but rather reward, those who help reduce our reliance on and use of a depleting and polluting resource.

LDS Tree-Hugger
Farmington, UT

I can see the logic in having an "itemized" billing,
and agree that paying to be connected to the grid,
and cover those costs to maintain the infrastructure is fair --

But, in order to keep it fair --
what's good for the goose,
is good for the gander.

Make it that way for everyone, with no exceptions.

Blue
Salt Lake City, UT

Mr. Haycock, your letter makes no sense.

A person with solar panels on their roof has no more influence on the power grid than a person who has adopted effective efficiency measures to lower their power bills. Rocky Mountain Power's grid can't tell the difference between a person using solar panels and a person who has just turned off their A/C.

If anything, power utilities should be the ones _paying_ solar panel owners because they lower their loads during peak demand times of the day.

As noted above, these attempts to punish owners of solar panels derive exclusively from fossil fuel industry lobbyists. There is no rational economic justification to make owning solar panels unattractive other than the coal industry's desire to eliminate competition.

joe5
South Jordan, UT

It is said that you never need to put a lid on a crab bucket. If one crab tries to crawl out, the others will pull him back in and not let him escape.

Mr Haycock would apparently like all of us to cook together just to prevent another crab from saving a dollar or two on his energy bill.

MikRo
Draper, UT

Of interest is that Mr. Haycock is a former employee of Rocky Mountain Power, having held the position of senior vice president and chief engineer.

samhill
Salt Lake City, UT

"I pay for my usage of the power grid. Solar power owners should share in that cost because of the benefit they get from the grid. Or, if they choose to, they can disconnect from the grid and see how that works for them."
==================

An excellent point and one I made a few days ago in response to a article on this topic in the Trib.

I also mentioned that rather than setting a certain fee for hooking up to the grid, why not simply reimburse the pioneering solar powered home owner at a reduced rate. Say, 80-90% of the regular power rate. That way everyone is compensated for the benefits of having access to the grid and there is no need to monitor and periodically adjust whatever is being proposed as a fee.

It's a win-win that can't lose! :o)

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

If you're willing to make some lifestyle changes, then living off the power grid can work quite well for you.

Shaun
Sandy, UT

I am for solar and I think its use should be expanded. However, Rocky Mountain Power has to credit solar owners full retail rate for the solar power that goes back on to the grid instead of credit a whole sale rate.

Yanquetino
Ivins, UT

Mr. Hancock is parroting Rocky Mountain Power's smart-ALEC claim that solar homeowners are "freeloaders" who do not pay their "fair share" for infrastructure.

That accusation is patently false. Whether customers lower their bills with energy saving measures such as LED lighting, more efficient appliances, double-pane windows, better insulation, programmable thermostats, and/or solar panels, the results are the same. They simply pay less for the proportional infrastructure costs included in RMP's rate-per-kWh. We all pay for as much infrastucture as we actually use. Why target solar homeowners?

Consider that every month, on average, RMP confiscates $13.46 worth of electricity from my solar array and sells it to my neighbors at the full rate, including infrastructure costs --even though it hasn't burned one lump of coal (sunshine is free), generated a single watt (my array does that), or transferred power through high voltage lines (there are none between our homes). Yet RMP calls me a "freeloader"?! Pot, meet kettle.

And the icing on the cake is that every month I help RMP clean up its dirty, fossil fool act, by eliminating 2,175 pounds of greenhouse gases from its carbon footprint!

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

What is the real argument? Does the power company add a surcharge for every school crossing where flashing lights are used? I see electric usage meters connected to those flashing lights in my area. Do they charge a minimum rate so that we can protect our children? Would they charge a minimum rate if they were allowed? How about the widow in our neighborhood who has solar panels. She also has storage batteries, so that most of her needs are met by her own system. Should she pay a special fee so that she can use her electric garage door? I don't know if she "sells" power back to the power company or not, but, unless things have changed, she uses almost no power from the power company. Should we all turn off our porch lights after 9:00 p.m.? Should we let people stumble around in the dark to save a few cents?

If the power company were fair, it would never charge one paying customer more for access to the grid than it charges any other customer, no matter how little electricity the customer buys.

DesertDan
Sandy, UT

Not sure I understand why a solar user should pay an extra fee when they already pay the same basic connection fee as all Rocky Mountain Power users. The only difference with the solar user is they are giving some cleaner power back for the company to use to offset their generation needs. Seems the company should be encouraging, not discouraging solar.

LDS Tree-Hugger
Farmington, UT

@LDS Tree-Hugger
Farmington, UT

But, in order to keep it fair --
what's good for the goose,
is good for the gander.

Make it that way for everyone, with no exceptions.

7:09 a.m. May 28, 2014

----

@Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

If the power company were fair, it would never charge one paying customer more for access to the grid than it charges any other customer, no matter how little electricity the customer buys.

10:19 a.m. May 28, 2014

===

You see Mike,
You CAN agree with us Tree-Hugging Liberals.

For the record,
My LDS meetinghouse is also Solar Powered.

Mon-Sat, all DAY long, that meeting house is pumping electric power back ONTO the grid.
Netting an excess of 300% usage.

Houses are the same way.
9am-5pm, when folks are away at work - that house is loading the grid with free electricity for RMP,
and conviently right when load peak the most,
and only drawing during the few night hours just like before the converse, and just like everyone else.
But the net carbon output is 75% - 85% less than before.

Give Said the Little Stream.
Give O Give, Give O Give...

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

LDS Liberal, openminded mormon, LDS tree hugger, airnaut, et al,

I'm not going to get into an argument with you over who first posted the idea that the power company should itemize its bill, but you'll find, if you care to do the research, that that idea preceded your post and that you jumped on the bandwagon almost too late.

===

Any idea that encourages us to do what we can to reduce reliance on fossil fuels helps IF that "idea" is not subsidized by taxpayers and IF that "idea" can stand on its own merits without Al Gore and his followers demanding a tax on everyone who doesn't agree with that "idea".

The power company is a "limited monopoly". It has the guaranteed right to make a profit, but it has no right to charge one customer more than another for a basic "hookup".

weakstuffout
West Jordan, UT

Mr. Haycock, I take extreme exception to your last comment: "I pay for my usage of the power grid. Solar power owners should share in that cost because of the benefit they get from the grid. Or, if they choose to, they can disconnect from the grid and see how that works for them."

I use solar panels to offset 30-50% of my monthly power bill. I pay a monthly interconnection fee just like everyone else, solar panels or not. I believe it is about $7 per month. This is how everyone shares in the infrastructure and fixed costs of the grid. Now RMP wants to tack on a fee for people who use less electricity?

Even my friends who generate more than they consume STILL PAY this monthly fee and STILL FORFEIT any excess at the end of the year. Are they free-loading? Or is RMP free-loading? Which is it?

Should we also charge a fee to people who install energy efficient appliances, light bulbs, etc.?

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Maverick,
Re: "I have beach front property in Florida"...

FYI... The cliche is supposed to be "I'll sell you some beach front property in Iceland, or Nevada, or Colorado (somewhere that doesn't have beaches). They have beach front property in Florida... LOTS of it. Kinda messes up the joke.

Even people with some solar panels on their house use the grid, even if only for a backup source of energy. They need to contribute something to maintaining the infrastructure they benefit from when they need it. Dams, generators, transmission lines, substations, transformers, and maintenance of all of the above don't come free...

weakstuffout
West Jordan, UT

@2 bits:

The interconnection fee is how EVERYONE shares costs of the infrastructure. As noted already, this is on top of any free generation solar customers give RMP for a given month. In other words, if Joe produces 900kWh for the month and used 800kWh, he has a bill equivalent to the interconnection fee.

If, at the end of the 12 month period, Joe has produced in excess of what he has consumed, the excess is taken by RMP WITHOUT paying retail or even wholesale rates.

Your point is well taken, I am saying that the interconnection fee IS ALREADY IN PLACE FOR ALL NET METERED CUSTOMERS.

Fitness Freak
Salt Lake City, UT

The decision on this issue will fall to the Utah Public Utilities Commission. Yes, Rocky Mtn. Power has a LOUD voice with that body. No, the PUC doesn't always do what they want. The BEST thing consumers can do is to write a nice letter to the PUC telling them how YOU feel.

Look at the "root" of the commission PUBLIC utility commission. The commission has a duty/obligation to do the right thing when it comes to the "public".

One of the MANY goals we should have as a society is to become less dependent on the fossil fuel industry. The PUC SHOULD take that goal into consideration.

IF Rocky Mtn. Power would like to save some of our rate dollars - how about they quit running worthless advertising on TV? Its' not as if people can "shop around" for their power needs. All their advertising means to me is that they must have way more revenue than they know what to do with.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

To "LDS Tree-Hugger" it is equal for every homeowner who wants to sell power on the electrical grid. What many people don't know is that the power company is required to buy solar power from home owners for the same price they sell it. At that rate, if a family produces enough kWh during the daylight to equal what they use in 24 hours, their bill would be $0, and they would not be paying their fair share for maintenance of the system and the overhead costs for the power company.

Yanquetino
Ivins, UT

2 bits: I do not understand why people have such a hard time grasping that solar homeowners DO pay for whatever infrastructure they use --just like everbody else. Do they pay less than a neighbor without solar panels? Yes. Just like a third neighbor who has LEDs, ultra-efficient appliances, top-knotch insulation, double-paned windows, programmed thermostats. Are you saying that the latter customer should also pay a penalty surcharge, because he has lowered his monthly bill --just like the solar homeowner?

As an analogy, would you also make a Prius driver pay a penalty surcharge for gasoline than a Suburban driver? After all, the Prius driver uses the fuel pumps, pipes, storage tanks, much less than the Suburban driver. Yet "all the above don't come free," right?

It is only FAIR that we PAY for what we actually USE. No more, no less. That applies to all consumers --no matter what energy saving measures we choose to implement individually.

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