Solar Public Opinion Survey

Survey: Vast Majority of Utahns Believe Rocky Mountain Power’s Proposal Discriminates Against Residential Solar Customers

Dan Jones & Associates survey uncovers strong public support for keeping solar power affordable in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (December 1, 2016) – The vast majority of Utahns oppose an increase in electricity costs for homeowners who power their homes with solar energy and agree that Rocky Mountain Power’s proposal unfairly discriminates against these customers, according to a new survey commissioned by the Utah Solar Energy Association (USEA).

Conducted by Dan Jones & Associates, the survey polled 834 Utahns on their attitudes toward solar energy and Rocky Mountain Power’s proposal regarding requested rate increases for rooftop solar customers, which was submitted to the Utah Public Service Commission on November 9, 2016. Most respondents (94 percent) do not currently have a solar energy system.

“This non-partisan survey gives the Public Service Commission the opportunity to hear from Utahns who are not invested in solar,” said Ryan Evans, president at USEA. “We hope that the Commission heeds public opinion and strikes down this proposal that discriminates against Utahns who choose to invest in clean, renewable energy.”

 

Key Findings:

  • Approximately three quarters of Utahns (76 percent) oppose an increase in electricity costs for customers with rooftop solar and the same percentage agrees that Rocky Mountain Power’s proposal unfairly discriminates against customers who are trying to reduce their reliance on energy from the utility. USEA believes this proposal discriminates against ratepayers that choose to invest in solar by singling them out as a rate class separate from all other residential customers. It will prevent Utahns from making the choice to adopt solar energy systems to reduce their reliance on Rocky Mountain Power.
  • Over four in five Utahns (82 percent) believe rooftop solar customers should have the right to reduce their electricity usage without paying additional fees. Under Rocky Mountain Power’s proposal, an average rooftop solar customer with a seven kilowatt system would see an increase of more than $31 per month on their electric bill. With standard utility escalation, this would add up to nearly $15,000 of additional costs over the life of the solar energy system, more than doubling the payback timeline of the system from up to 13 years to nearly 30 years.
  • Over four in five Utahns believe improved air quality (84 percent) and a cleaner environment (83 percent) are the most important factors to be included in the analysis when considering solar rates. In November 2015, the Utah Public Utilities Commission required Rocky Mountain Power to study the cost and the benefits of residential solar in Utah. The study Rocky Mountain Power is basing its proposal on only accounts for the costs of residential solar in Utah, ignoring the tangible benefits to the grid, such as grid resiliency and efficient delivery of energy, and external benefits to all ratepayers. USEA maintains that Utah deserves a study with a long-term view of generational costs and benefits, especially the environmental benefits that are most important to Utahns.

“The solar industry in Utah has a simple request: That Rocky Mountain Power commission a legitimate cost benefit analysis as other state utilities have done,” said David Bywater, interim CEO of Vivint Solar. “A true analysis should consider the value of solar and look at both the costs and benefits to the grid, the environment and the economy. We look forward to collaborating with the utility and the Commission to find a fair, balanced solution for all ratepayers.”

Rocky Mountain Power has asked that their proposal be effective on December 9, 2016. If granted by the Public Service Commission, this decision would devastate the solar industry, one of the fastest-growing industries in Utah.

Click to View Full PDF Survey

To learn more about the solar industry’s analysis of the Rocky Mountain Proposal, visit www.utsolar.org/net-metering

To learn what you can do to let your voice be heard, visit www.saveutahsolar.org