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Success for Solar at the Utah State Capitol

Utah Solar Energy Association

Legislative Success For Solar!
Tax Credit of $1600 extended through 2020

The 45 days of the Utah Legislative Session proved to be very busy for the Utah Solar Energy Association. As they say, it takes a village, and to get the outcomes we wanted we are grateful to all who were involved.  Of most importance to our members was the successful extension of our Utah State Tax Credit, however, we also passed an industry led consumer protection bill and significantly altered a potentially harmful bill, supported by Rocky Mountain Power.

USEA Priority Bills

  • SB 141, Electric Energy Amendments: Passed– This bill preserves the Utah State Solar Tax Credit at $1600 through 2020 and is a huge advantage for residential solar installers.
    • We hoped this bill would be easy but it ended up being an incredible lift on the last two days of the session to get passed. In particular, USEA thanks the Vivint Solar lobbying team, Dr. Laura Nelson at the Office of Energy Development, Governor Gary Herbert, and Rocky Mountain Power for getting this bill passed. Laura Nelson and Governor Herbert intervened at the end to help us overcome a fiscal issue with the bill that may have prevented it being implemented as law despite only one legislator voting “no” in both the House and the Senate. The good news- we have a strong voice and our industry is increasingly being recognized for the good we bring to the state.
  • HB 261, Renewable Energy Amendments: Passed USEA worked extensively with association members sPower, Wheeler Machinery, and Auric Solar as well as several other groups including the Utah Association of Energy Users, Utah Clean Energy, the Office of Consumer Services and the Division of Public Utilities to improve this bill through negotiations with Rocky Mountain Power and the bill sponsor. USEA identified several significant concerns and worked to build in protections for the private sector, including ensuring a competitive RFP process, a requirement that any potential RMP solar project and RFPs be evaluated by the PSC, and the inclusion of a 2 MW floor on projects if they are behind the meter. This bill, had it not been amended, could have been harmful to the private sector solar market. Defeating this bill outright was not realistic, for many reasons, and therefore eliminating harm to the industry was a big win.
  • SB 157, Residential Solar Energy Amendments (USEA Consumer Protection Bill): Passed– This bill establishes mandatory disclosures of solar companies to customers. This bill was a product of USEA’s Consumer Protection Task Force, vetted by dozens of member solar companies and a component of the net metering settlement- all in an effort to self-regulate our industry from those who seek to take advantage of a booming market. Throughout the Session it became apparent that being proactive and bringing forward our own disclosure bill was a good strategy.
    • Important: This disclosure requirements for this bill will go into effect on September 3, 2018. USEA will put out informational material to help you ensure you are in compliance with this bill.
  • Other bills: We monitored several other bills and resolutions that potentially impacted solar energy and voiced our support or opposition where necessary- including two different legislative resolutions focused on the environment and the important economic impact of solar for rural Utah.Additionally, USEA took a public position on three bills that would impact general business operations:
    • HB 374 Apportionment of Business Income Amendments: Supported but did not pass- Supports state-level tax reform efforts that encourage businesses that have property and payroll located in Utah by basing the company’s business income tax on sales. Twenty states currently use a single sales factor formula in order to provide an incentive for businesses to bring more jobs (i.e. payroll and property) to their state. Utah should support this movement for both existing companies and those we want to attract to our state. This bill has been a work in progress and will be examined further through the interim legislative meetings.
    • HB 359 Allocation of Fault Amendments: Opposed and did not pass– Creates JOINT and SEVERAL liability for individuals and businesses that negligently fail to prevent an intentional tort. Passage of the bill will spawn more litigation, create new liability for third parties and completely flip Utah’s current negligence laws on their heads. This bill will create new liability for individuals and businesses. HB 359 will potentially make business establishment, CEO, COO, employer, homeowner, property owner, church and parent, jointly and severally liable, with a bad actor, for any intentional tort that occurs within a facility or on their property.
    • HB 79 Private Attorney General Doctrine: Opposed and did not pass- This bill could allow for the recovery of attorneys’ fees – in certain circumstances – to the prevailing party in litigation under the private attorney generaldoctrine (because it repeals the prohibition which is currently in statute). Allowing for the recovery of attorneys’ fees in these matters could encourage additional litigation.

Questions? Want to have a voice within the solar industry? Reach out to Ryan at