States like Utah have proven that solar energy is one of the most lucrative commodities in today’s energy market. As more people opt for this alternative source of power, they generate energy that not only keeps their homes functional and comfortable year-round, but also can contribute to the local power grid (how does net metering work?).
Solar companies, state regulators and Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) in Utah have debated for several months about whether or not to increase the net metering rates. The negotiations were contentious at some points as emotions on both sides ran high. Last year in December, the Utah Public Service Commission delayed decision on new net metering rates.
But this past month, leaders in the state government and solar power market agreed to the net metering policies for RMP customers that are designed to generate more revenue for Utah while easing the burden on homeowners who do not have solar panel systems.
Here is what you need to know…
Let’s start by saying if you live in Utah, but do not have Rocky Mountain Power as a utility provider, nothing changed in regard to your net metering. Each utility sets their own rates, so cities like Provo, Springville, and Lehi manage their own.
For RMP customers, there will be three types of solar customers in Utah based on the new rates and when you purchase your solar. Both net metering and solar tax credits will be affected. For current customers, nothing will change.
For new customers on November 15th, the solar world will look a little different.
Under the new agreement, there are three phases of net metering for RMP:
- Current customers (NEM)
- Transition customers
- Post-transition (export credit) customers.
1. Net Metering Customers (NEM)
If you have solar now, or go solar before November 15th of this year (i.e. your application is submitted for net metering), you will have no new rates and no new charges and are classified as a Net Metered Customer (NEM). You will continue to be paid for excess power at 100% of the average energy rate. These are locked in until 2035.
2. Transition Customers
Any customer that applies after November 15th will be a “transition customer”. Things are not all that bad for transition customers. If for some reason you haven’t pulled the trigger on solar by mid-November this year, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go solar in Utah. NEM customers will receive 100% of the average energy rate, but under the transition, new customers will be paid at 92.5% of the average energy rate, meaning that for every dollar value that your solar system generates and provides to the grid, you will receive 92.5 cents.
It is important to note for electricity provided by your solar system during the day and consumed immediately by your household you will receive the full 1:1 benefit.
Not all decisions are final at this point, but the transition period starts on November 15th and the period it still to be determined, but is projected to last about 3 years. Customers that apply for net metering during this time would keep this rate structure until 2032.
3. Export Credit Customers
Those who buy solar after the determined transition period (i.e. about 3 years from now, but still is not finalized), the future is a bit murky.
Decisions will be made after the export credit proceeding, but they will consider such things as energy value, appropriate measurement intervals, environmental compliance and generation capacity. Some possible upgrades to the export credit will also be considered, including smart inverters, energy storage, and other load and generation management devices.
Utah State Tax Credit Changes
Any Utah resident with solar installed by the end of 2017 is eligible for up to $2000 in tax credit from the state of Utah.
This is also in the plans to change over the next few years. As of now, the current structure would make you eligible for a Utah state tax credit up to $1600 in 2018, with a decrease by $400 per year up to an expiration in 2022.
A new plan is being currently being proposed to ask for a $1600 maximum to be sustained through 2020, with decreases by $400 until 2024 when it would expire.
Now is the Time to Go Solar
Ultimately, solar energy leaders hope to make solar power more affordable and accessible to everyone. Although the planned increases are not good news, there are still great options for Utah residents to go solar.
November 14th is the deadline to keep the current net metering rates. If you have been thinking about going solar, now is the time, I mean really the time, to escape the decreased net metering rate that new customers will soon face. While the increases aren’t large, why lose money on it when you can purchase solar now?
Escape the proposed rate hikes and purchase solar now, contact Blue Raven Solar today to start your custom design proposal.
Solar with Blue Raven
Blue Raven Solar has a Consumer Affairs department that focuses exclusively on staying on top of and understanding these type of policy changes. When you purchase solar with Blue Raven, our team will take care of all of the paperwork and permitting, and will work tirelessly to submit your application prior to November 15th.
At Blue Raven, it is our mission to make homeowners’ lives better by increasing their reliance on renewable energy and saving money in the process. Contact us today and we’ll create a customized proposal for your home.