The Utah Public Service Commission said no to a monthly fee for rooftop solar on homes and other structures in Utah. The proposed fee was an idea put forth by Rocky Mountain Power. “This victory belongs to the tens thousands of rooftop solar owners, community councils, faith communities, businesses, and Utah citizens who stood up for the freedom to choose clean solar energy,” said Christopher Thomas, executive director of the Commission.
The decision does not only protect current rooftop solar users in Utah, but future ones as well. Fence sitters that are considering solar power might have been discouraged if a new monthly fee was added to the cost of installing and operating a home solar system. The cost of solar panels has been dropping steadily for some time so the current period we are in seems to be much more favorable to solar power. At the same time, there still is resistance. Adding barriers to the utilization of solar would most likely slow some of the current momentum solar is experiencing.
As more systems are installed, there might be even more interest generated. Also, greater sales can translate into still lower prices as volume grows. Public perception of solar power also seems to have shifted, at least slightly. The falling costs at least suggest that the affordability issue is decreasing.
The rise of EVs and consistent press related to the hazards of climate change and fossil fuels also appears to be making solar panels more palatable for consumers and businesses.
As researchers are able to make the technology more efficienct, solar power should only become more attractive.
Public policy decisions that remove or prevent barriers to an emerging technology are very important because they offer breathing room.
There is some conflict between fossil fuel-based industry and clean energy because of the huge amounts of money involved. A Utah homeowner who recently had solar panels installed said, “I think with the majority of power from Rocky Mountain Power coming from coal-fired power plants, it is not right for someone who is putting clean power back in the grid to have to pay extra, bottom line. To charge people extra who are producing clean power is just wrong.”
If it does not seem that a monthly solar fee would be much of a deterrent, consider that Arizona does have such a fee and reportedly it has had an impact, “Since November, when Arizona started charging $5 a month to people who have rooftop solar, new solar installations have plummeted in Arizona Power’s service area, while they keep growing elsewhere. Only 280 solar systems were added in January, down from 583 a year ago.” With the issues associated with the fossil fuel industry, it makes both economic and ecological sense to switch to more sustainable options, lest Salt Lake disability lawyers need to be called in for health concerns.
Image: Pasteur, CC BY-SA 3.0
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