“As the population of our state continues to grow, it is critical that we pursue production of alternative and renewable forms of energy,” said Salt Lake County Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw.
Rocky Mountain Power claims the increase is necessary to ensure that its solar-equipped customers pay their fair share to cover the costs of the transmission and distribution systems.
Members of UCARE (Utah Citizens Advocating Renewable Energy), a grassroots organization formed to oppose the proposal, contend that the fee increase will discourage people who are considering the use of solar energy in their homes.
“Renewable distributed generation reduces air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, generates local economic development and empowers our constituents to be directly involved in the improvement of our local community,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.
The proposed increase has also seen opposition from eleven local community councils, who have all passed resolutions opposing the fee. The Magna Community Council says that before any rate increase takes place, Rocky Mountain Power should focus on investing in the development of all available forms of renewable energy production and wean itself away from relying on limited and increasingly expensive fossil fuel.
A recent online survey posted by HEAL Utah, an environmental advocacy group opposed to the rate increase, found that of Rocky Mountain Power customers in the Salt Lake City metro area, 94 percent oppose (86 percent strongly oppose) the fee increase. More than 60 percent believe that Rocky Mountain Power should be using solar as an energy source more often.
The Utah Public Service Commission, which regulates energy, telecommunications, gas, and water companies in Utah, will decide whether Rocky Mountain Power’s request is reasonable. They will debate the proposal with the members of the public on Tuesday, July 29. If approved, the surcharge will take affect on September 1.
Prior to the meeting, members of UCARE, along with TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed) Chairman Barry Goldwater, Jr., plan to hold a rally outside the Heber M. Wells Building in Salt Lake City, where the Utah Public Service Commission meets.