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A Rocky Mountain Power program that since 2007 has offered financial incentives to encourage Utahns to install solar panels on their homes and businesses gets to stick around for at least another year — and maybe longer.

State utility regulators at the Public Service Commission have told the utility they want it to continue to offer its Solar Incentive Program through the end of 2012 and increase its budget from $314,500 a year to $385,000.

The five-year program was set to expire Saturday.

"Temporarily extending the program for one year will provide more time for the development of an ongoing program," the PSC said in its order, which also indicated it wants the state’s Division of Public Utilities to lead that effort.

Sara Baldwin, a senior policy associate at renewable-energy advocate Utah Clean Energy, said the PSC’s order was an important victory for program proponents.

If the utility’s program had been allowed to expire, those who support solar power development in the state would have faced additional regulatory hurdles to get a similar incentive program re-established, she said.

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