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‘Net metering’ law for wattage studied

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The Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee is still considering a law that would allow for "net metering" of electricity.

Draft legislation discussed Wednesday would require utilities to make net metering available to customers who want to produce their own power and receive credit for excess power they make available to the utility.

The legislation is expected to be adjusted and discussed again in September. Rep. Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful, said she wants the estimated costs for utilities for new equipment needed to make the program work.

Utah is the only Western state without a program that allows customers of a major utility to generate their own power that can be sold back for use on the utility's grid, although Utah's rural electric cooperatives have implemented a net metering program.

Customers tend to be homeowners or small-business owners with small, renewable energy systems that allow them to "spin their meter backward" by using their own generation to offset utility-purchased electricity.

Such a program would allow customers to reduce their power-buying costs and reduce utilities' needs to buy high-priced spot-market power during peak usage periods.

The draft legislation would restrict the total generating capacity of customer systems to 0.1 percent of the utility's peak demand during 2001.