OPINION — When it comes to developing solar and other clean, renewable energy sources, Utah ranks dead last among the western states.
Utah’s leaders prefer polluting, non-renewable fossil fuels. Seventy-six percent of Utah’s power is from coal, whereas less than one percent is from solar.
Solar energy creates many jobs, helps the economy, and improves air quality. Rooftop solar also gives people a choice about how they want to obtain their energy, and what kind of quality of life they want to leave their children.
Now Utah may be poised to take a major step backward to discourage solar energy. Utah’s monopoly utility, Rocky Mountain Power, is proposing a rate change that would punish people with solar panels.
The proposal would greatly increase monthly costs while dramatically reducing the net metering credit that is received for adding energy to the grid. This proposal is the subject of an August 9th hearing before the Utah Public Service Commission.
Nevada regulators approved a similar utility rate change that devastated Nevada’s robust solar industry. Many solar businesses were crippled and many solar jobs were lost. Nevada then learned from this self-imposed disaster, changed the rates, and its solar industry is coming back. Will Utah’s Public Service Commissioners learn from Nevada’s mistake or repeat it?
Utah should stop looking to the past and being “fossil foolish”. Utah’s leaders should join most of the civilized world in recognizing the many benefits from solar and other renewable energy sources.
Written by RICHARD SPOTTS
St. George, Utah
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