Solar advocates ask state regulators to delay Rocky Mountain Power’s net metering hearings

A group of solar advocates and other parties opposed to Rocky Mountain Power’s request to change electric rates for rooftop solar owners is seeking to delay regulatory hearings on the controversial issue.

In a motion filed late Thursday, industry and clean air advocates as well as state and local government representatives asked the state Public Service Commission for a 30-day delay, just as the public hearings were set to resume Monday.

But, as of Friday morning, the three PSC commissioners said they could not delay the hearings on such short notice unless all parties to the case — including Rocky Mountain Power — agreed to the delay.

Officials at Rocky Mountain Power did not immediately respond early Friday to requests for comment.

In their motion, solar advocates said all sides are currently part of confidential negotiations toward a settlement and need more time to continue those talks. Advocates cited “significant progress that has occurred in settlement discussions recently,” according to documents.

More time, the motion claims, “will facilitate a negotiated resolution of the proceeding.” the motion says.  

Rocky Mountain Power first proposed in November a new three-part rate structure for net metering customers in Utah. Among other effects, the proposal has the potential to significant increase some customer’s electric bills, and those in the solar industry say its adoption could slow the growing pace of solar installations in Utah.

The utility argues the new rate structure more accurately represents its actual costs stemming from the expansion of rooftop solar, and that the rate overhaul would keep electrical rates lower for other customers.

The Public Service Commission is in the process of gathering information for and against the proposal, having held the first in a series of hearings on the matter on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, solar advocates, state agencies and officials from the electrical utility have been involved in settlement negotiations, aimed at developing an alternative proposal with the potential to scrap Rocky Mountain Power’s current net-metering plan altogether and replace it with a system intended to be more fair to all involved..

Though bound by confidentiality as to the alternative plan’s details, several parties engaged in the discussions have said they favor the settlement.

The Salt Lake Tribune will update this story as more information becomes available.

from The Salt Lake Tribune


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