Rocky Mountain Power made headlines last month for proposing an increase to its solar panel rates.
As the Deseret News reported, the utility company wants consumers who have solar panels to pay a one-time $60 fee for administrative costs as well as a $15 monthly rate. The company says the current rate structure is not sustainable and, according to a study of what rooftop solar customers are paying, will shift $6.5 million in costs each year to other customers, the Deseret News reported.
"Rocky Mountain Power supports renewable resources as long as an appropriate rate is in place that allows customers to use private generation without adversely affecting other residential customers," said Greg Hoogeveen, Rocky Mountain Power's senior vice president and chief commercial officer, to the Deseret News.
David Bywater, the chief executive officer of Vivint Solar, spoke on the Beehive Startups podcast and Silicon Slopes hour on Sunday about the increase.
Bywater told podcast host Clint Betts that Vivint looked into the proposal with its own researchers and found the plan won't inspire consumers to embrace solar energy.
“We think it’s the most anti-solar position that any utility has brought forth in any state at this point,” Bywater said. “And it’s shocking.”
Bywater said this would also be a hit to his company, which has worked to improve Utah’s connection to solar energy.
Even though Vivint has about 4,000 employees nationwide, including in states such as California, New York, Massachusetts and 12 others, about half of Vivint’s employees live in Utah.
“It’s home for us,” he said. “We love this state. It is a phenomenal state to operate in. … We love how pro-business this state is. So this matters to us."
Since Utah is home, Rocky Mountain Power’s solar decision is a bitter pill to swallow, he said.
“It impacts consumers," he said. "It impacts their ability to choose. "
Listen to Bywater and Betts talk about the state’s environment and solar energy competition in the podcast below.