Hans Koepsell, Deseret News
Nick Mason's solar panels are seen on his home where roughly 80 percent of his electrical bill is paid for by solar energy in Provo, Friday, Oct. 7, 2016. Mayor John Curtis is vetoing a new fee for rooftop solar energy users that the Provo City Council passed last week.

PROVO — Mayor John Curtis is vetoing a new fee for rooftop solar energy users that the Provo City Council passed last week.

Curtis said he has spent many hours thinking about his response since the council voted 4-3 to add a charge to solar users last week. He said the city needs to talk more about consumption versus fixed charges and how it impacts the city's general fund.

"It’s not often I use the veto power, but the future of solar in Provo is an important issue and deserves discussion," he posted on his blog.

"For many reasons I feel our residents and members of the community should further the dialogue on sustainability, the health of the city’s grid, and how to balance competing interests."

Provo Energy is Utah's largest publicly owned power utility, serving more than 32,000 residential customers in the city.

In voting for the surcharge, Councilman George Stewart said last week that the current system was not fair to the rest of the users. While there was a push to raise the utility's "fixed rate," Stewart said council members felt a surcharge was ultimately more equitable.

Opponents of the new charge say customers who have existing solar energy systems — about 160 homes — as well as those intent on making the investment would be faced with a much less affordable energy option.

Curtis said his goal vetoing the surcharge is to have a more educated public and to make decisions around consensus through collaboration.

"Over the coming months I hope to have an opportunity with the council to focus my efforts on bringing stakeholders to the table that include residents who have invested in solar, community leaders, industry experts, sustainability advocates and economists," he said.

Curtis said the city supports investments in solar energy and encourages and supports residents to help build a community of renewable and diverse energy choices.

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