Comments about ‘Letter: Fair solar tax?’

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Published: Wednesday, Aug. 6 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Burke, VA

Just to be clear, when you ask "Is it fair to charge the cyclist the same gas tax that the everyday-and-everywhere vehicle driver pays?" Certainly, the cyclist would pay the same gas tax for the gas he/she uses (ie. when they drive their own car). And the cyclist does pay the same gas tax, indirectly, when he/she rides the bus or takes some other form of public transportation (that uses gasoline).

But I think your point is that the cyclists should not pay the tax when they don't use the product. Just like solar panel users should not pay an EXTRA fee to the power company above and beyond what the non-solar users pay, which seems to be a penalty tax for using solar panels. Doesn't your public utilities commission have some say in this? How can anyone think that charging extra for those who are using less power from the power company is in any way fair? It's not. It is simply a means to discourage the use of solar panels and in my opinion, is un-American.

LDS Tree-Hugger
Farmington, UT

Yes, the cyclist rides on roads and may need to take the bus or drive on bad weather days. Is it fair to charge the cyclist the same gas tax that the everyday-and-everywhere vehicle driver pays?


But to make one small correction --

As a cyclist,
It would be like UTA or the State income tax charging you a $5 a month FEE -- Simply because you DO ride a bicycle and are NOT 100% dependent on riding the bus or driving.

BTW -- As home owners,
We already paid up front for the cost of those power lines and installations when the houses were built.
I believe the going installation rate right now is ~ $5,000 and $20,000 depending on how far from the main line you might be.

This $5 per month "fee" is just an addition too...

If $5 a month is required just to maintain it --
Charge EVERYONE that rate.

BTW --
While we are at it --
If we are truly concerned about "what is fair is fair",
and let the Free Market decide...

Corporations use 100 times the power home owners do,
So in all "fairness", the market dictates they be charged $500 a month "FEE" for being hooked up.

Salt Lake City, UT

By aggressively adopting conservation/efficiency measures I have succeeded in lowering my home's use of electricity by more than 25%. Will Rocky Mountain Power propose that I should pay an extra fee, too? How can RMP tell the difference between what I've accomplished and what my neighbor is doing with his little set of solar panels?

Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

How about all burger joints start charging a FEE for those NOT using their Salt, Pepper, Mustard or Ketchup?

How about all comapnies just start charging a monthly FEE for those not coming in and using their services at all?

This is like those stores who started charging a FEE to come in and browse and look around.
If you BUY something, they wave the FEE.

I've seen MAFIA axtorsion plans and methods
[pay the FEE, and nobody gets hurt]
that were more "fair".

Hayden, ID

ICSI program, combined with government rebates, make for a sweet deal for solar panels. I am helping you pay for your solar panels with my taxes!

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

The problem with the bicyclist paying UTA analogy is... UTA doesn't maintain the roads. They just drive buses on them.

You do already pay taxes that help fund traffic infrastructure (whether you drive or not) and you don't complain. Not all UDOT Funds come from gas taxes. Some money is allocated from the general fund to build and maintain roads. So you Do help fund traffic infrastructure (whether you drive a car or not). The same with the power infrastructure. If you require it be connected to your home and be in working order at all times... you have to pay for the people who do that (they work for Rocky Mountain Power).

I see the point that it seems counter-productive to incur a charge to help maintain the infrastructure, when you were trying to minimize what you pay to the utility companies. But they still send people out to maintain the wires, the transformers, the power substations, etc.

You may not use the power they generate (so you don't have to pay for operating the power plants), but you DO still use the power infrastructure (which IS expensive to maintain).

Salt Lake City, UT


Instead of railing against taxes subsidizing solar, why not take advantage of it and install your own solar panels? Then your taxes would be subsidizing your own power plant. Or is it that you just don't like your taxes helping anyone else? If that's the case, then rail against the enormous tax subsidies to your favorite industries: coal, oil, pharma, ag, etc.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

It's odd to me that conservative commentators who usually rant about taxes and fees are cheerleading this. How do we know that RMP has cut the fat yet? Have they seen where they can make cuts? Why shouldn't they become leaner and more efficient before charging customers more? How do I know that this "$10" dollar increase won't become a regular occurrence?

RMP wants more money. They can either improve themselves or merely jack up fees on customers.

I usually hear this when other entities, especially public education and federal government want to raise taxes or fees. So why aren't we hearing the same for RMP?

Why is the anti-tax crowd so distrustful of public education and the Feds yet so trusting of Rocky Mtn Power?

Is it because it truly is an attack of solar panels and these same conservative commentators see an opportunity to "stick it" to the solar panel crowd?

one old man
Ogden, UT

Behind all this are very loud echoes of the Koch Brothers and their pet organization, American Legislative Exchange Council -- ALEC.

Now let's see, how many of our legislators are members of ALEC?

A bunch . . . .

Salt Lake City, UT


You make a good point. Having worked for a public utility long ago, I can verify that where a government-regulated and protected monopoly operates, there is plenty of fat, because they don't have fierce competition to keep them lean. They have a guaranteed rate of return, so customers have to pay the operating costs, whether bloated or not, plus a profit margin. If they are falling short, they just go to the public utilities commission for a rate hike, rather than initiating drastic cost-cutting measures. The commission is supposed to be the watchdog that makes sure they are operating efficiently, but often the relationship is too cozy for the commission to really be effective. One reason (among others) RMP is singling out solar customers is that it perceives and is trying to suppress a competitive threat from them.

Frozen Fractals
Salt Lake City, UT

The question is... how does the power company currently charge for the infrastructure cost? Perhaps instead of singling out solar users it should just carve out a flat fee for everyone using the grid.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

@ Frozen

"The question is... how does the power company currently charge for the infrastructure cost? Perhaps instead of singling out solar users it should just carve out a flat fee for everyone using the grid."

This would solve the whole infrastructure excuse... But it doesn't eliminate the solar panel threat. Methinks this is what's it's really about. RMP is afraid of the competition.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT


I was going to recommend that. But I don't know how they can divide out the cost of maintaining the infrastructure needed to get power to every house in the State... VS the cost of operating their power plants.

IF they could do that... this would be a good solution.

Then our bill would have 2 parts... Infrastructure costs, and power generation and distribution costs.

Every person would get charged for the infrastructure... but you would only pay for energy generation if you use the power they generate...

Provo, UT

No new taxes

How do we know that Rocky Mountain Power isn't just lying to us? How do we know that they'll put this new money to infrastructure? So what happens if they try to raise our rates again next year? This reminds me of a lil poem:

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me."

While some may feel it's okay to merely charge the solar panel people a lil extra, how do we know that we won't be next? I don't have solar panels. But I stand with them here.

Rocky Mountain Power has enough money. Make due with whatever you have. Be responsible and make cuts. The rest of us have faced drops in benefits and salary. Why shouldn't you?

No new taxes.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Among the evil conspiracies of businessmen, is the confusion of customers about just what it is that they are paying for. By separating the total price into separate pieces, a price increase is hidden and imposed on an unsuspecting customer. When the power company starts charging extra for a grid fee, did they decrease the price of the product itself?

If any customers of a public utility are charged a grid fee then all customers should pay the fee and it should be proportional to the actual cost of that connection. All customers should then pay a lower fee for the product.

Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

Me thinks -- alot of this has to do with the "evil Socialist's" plan of
having millions of home owners finally bucking up and purchasing
CFL and LED lighting and cutting down on their own power bills.

Those $Tens of Millions of lost dollar revenue must be made up some-how.

So, if they can't get the State to "regulate" a rate hike for everyone
[like they've tried twice in recent years, and been told NO!]
they try to find a different way, and call it a FEE
and apply it only to those they feel are a
"threat" to their future and cutting into their business monopoly.

San Diego, CA

Are people in Utah really making the decision of whether or not to go solar based on a $10 fee? I just made the decision to go solar in California and I will be paying my local utility a fee of around $10 (I think) My electric bill will be reduced from $200 per month to $0 per month + $10 fee. My break-even point (if utility charges don't go up) would be in approximately 5 years. The solar panels last for a minimum of 25 years or maybe longer. So, I'm fine with the $10 fee.

My concern is that many years from now if everyone (business included) in California puts solar on their rooftops, than how will a $10 per month per customer possibly pay for the required maintenance to the power lines and grid? There is no doubt this fee will go up in the future.

I like having electricity at night, so I will pay the fee.

Centerville, UT

Can we just clear up one fact about the issue. It is not a tax. It is not charged by any governmental agency. It does not benefit any governmental agency.

It is a service fee charged by an utility company. Specifically Rocky Mountain Power. Murray and Bountiful have their own power companies not involved.

USS Enterprise, UT

To "Teresa Clawson" how can your connection to the grid be like everybody else's if you sell power on the grid? I don't sell power on the grid, so why should I have to pay for a connection that allows me to sell power on the grid?

As for you bicyclist, they do pay gas taxes for every gallon of gas that they buy. If a bicyclist is able to get by without buying gas, then they will not pay any gas tax.

If you don't want to pay the fee, then get rid of your net metering connection and stop using the RMP system to sell your solar panel's excess power. It is that simple. If you don't like the fee, don't get the connection.

The Educator
South Jordan , UT

Why is it that every single year Rocky Mountain cries the blues about not having enough money? They've gotta do something other than whine about money. Throwing more money at them isn't going to fix anything. Perhaps instead of whining about money Rocky Mountain should actually improve their services to become more profitable? That's what most other businesses have to do.

Let's stop throwing money at Rocky Mountain Power.

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