Susan Montoya Bryan, AP
One of the best parts of having solar panels is taking advantage of net metering. Net metering works like this: When you generate more energy from your panels than you consume, you export the excess energy to Rocky Mountain Power and receive a credit to offset your utility bill.

Is solar still a good investment?

If you’ve traversed I-15 recently, you likely saw several billboards encouraging you to install a solar energy system before Nov. 15, when the new solar rate structure for Rocky Mountain Power customers went into effect.

While there were some advantages to signing up before the 15th, the good news is that rooftop solar is still a great investment for Utahns. In fact, now is still a great time to go solar.

Based on customer research conducted by the Utah Solar Energy Association (USEA), we’ve found the top reasons Utahns go solar is because they want to save money on their utility bills, do their part to improve the environment, specifically our air quality, and they feel it is a beneficial way to prepare for emergencies.

Driven by these and other motivations, more than 35,000 households and businesses in Utah have installed solar panels. Here are three reasons why investing in solar is still a good idea:

The new solar rate structure lets Utahns continue to affordably invest in rooftop solar.

One of the best parts of having solar panels is taking advantage of net metering. Net metering works like this: When you generate more energy from your panels than you consume, you export the excess energy to Rocky Mountain Power and receive a credit to offset your utility bill.

Previously, Rocky Mountain Power customers with a solar energy system were compensated differently based on a kilowatt-hour (kWh) credit, which was subject to change. For the first time, Utah has a fixed rate export credit structure for each kWh export. Most importantly, this export rate is protected through 2032 — a 15-year guarantee. To put that into context, if you have a 3-year-old, you’ll be compensated at the same export credit rate through their high school graduation.

Utahns can now go solar with the utmost confidence in their investment.

In addition to the guaranteed export credit rate, all the energy your system produces and that is directly consumed in your home or business is not subject to penalty or fees. Solar customers are also now protected in the same rate class as non-solar customers, and will continue to pay the same base fees as their non-solar counterparts.

This is important because previously Utahns had no certainty that their rooftop solar investments would be protected in the long term. Now with an export credit rate certainty for 15 years, you have a fixed timeframe by which you can measure the return on your investment.

The top reason Utahns go solar — to save money — is still valid.

As mentioned earlier, USEA’s customer research found one of the most popular reasons Utahns go solar is to save money. Under this new rate structure, solar still makes a lot of financial sense for Rocky Mountain Power customers.

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The federal Solar Investment Tax Credit currently offers a 30 percent credit on your system purchase, and individuals can also claim the Utah Renewable Energy System Tax Credit for $1,600 in 2018, 2019 and 2020 (pending approval of proposed legislation). Businesses can receive up to $50,000 as a tax credit. These tax credits, combined with electricity savings, can help customers who purchase a system outright break even on their solar investment faster.

We’re proud that the compromise with Rocky Mountain Power allows Utahns to continue to affordably invest in rooftop solar, gives future customers rate certainty for 15 years and allows solar customers to power their own homes without being penalized.