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Utahns protest proposed fee for solar panel users

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Posted at 4:41 PM, May 22, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-22 18:41:15-04

SALT LAKE CITY – A protest was held Thursday as Utahns expressed their disapproval for a power company’s proposal to charge customers who use solar panels.

Rocky Mountain Power is considering charging customers who use solar panels an additional $4.25 each month, and members of the group Utah Citizens Advocating Renewable Energy expressed their displeasure.

U CARE members asked the public service commission to reject the proposal from RMP, claiming the proposed fee would discourage people from pursuing solar energy.

“It shows Rocky Mountain Power’s true lack of a commitment to renewable energy,” UCARE Member Stan Homes said. “We hear so much about the Blue Sky program, which has good things to be said for it, but in fact, what Rocky Mountain Power is based on is coal. It’s part of the coal industry. They mine it here. They burn it here.”

Paul Murphy, Rocky Mountain Power spokesman, said the alternative to the fee is putting the cost to other customers who aren’t using solar power.

He said: “The question is: Who pays for it? Do the people who use the solar panels, or should other customers be paying for it? The proposed charge does not bring in any more revenue to RMP, it just keeps other customers from paying for what solar panel users are doing.”

Those opposed to the proposed fee say a similar fee in Arizona led to a decrease in installations of solar panels in that state, and they said they worry such a fee would have a similar impact in Utah.