Rocky Mountain Power's net metering program measures the difference between the electricity a customer buys from the utility and the energy generated by the customer using their own solar panel system.
There are three tiers within the Rocky Mountain Power net metering program, each with their own requirements for interconnecting a solar panel system. Tier 1 is less than 25 kilowatts (kW), which is the tier most residential units fall under. Tier 2 is for inverter-based systems between 25 kW and 2 megawatts; Tier 3 is for non-inverter based systems between 25 kilowatts and 2 megawatts.
The net metering cap designates the maximum amount of customer-sited energy generating resources that can take subscribes of a net metering program.
Idaho has an individual system capacity limit of 25kW for residential and small commercial users and 100 kW for all others. There is no aggregate capacity limit for utilities in the state.
For their new net metering transition program, Utah has an individual system capacity limit of 25 kW for residential users and 2 MW for all other users. The cap on Rocky Mountain Power’s program is 170 MW for residential and small business users, and 70 MW allocated for large non-residential customers.
Wyoming has an individual system capacity limit of 25 kW but no specified net metering cap.
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Rocky Mountain Power offers net metering to customers in Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming at a competitive rate.
In Idaho, there is no overlap between service areas for Rocky Mountain Power and the state’s other large energy suppliers, Avista Utilities and Idaho Power. As a result, location is the most significant factor determining the best net metering program. However, Rocky Mountain Power is the best for renewable energy generally due to its Blue Sky program that supports renewable energy development for those unable to install a solar panel system on their own property.
Rocky Mountain Power is the largest utility in Utah, providing more than 80 percent of the electricity in the state. Other customers get their power from municipal utilities known as Utah Association of Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) or rural cooperatives. While Rocky Mountain Power doesn’t offer full retail credit for their net metering credits, their export credit amount of 92% of retail value is still favorable. UAMPS is still in the process of creating a rate structure for its customers.
Other energy suppliers in Wyoming include Black Hills Energy. This utility also offers net metering, but their program has more of a focus on residential cost offsets than promoting the use of renewable energy such as solar panel systems. Rocky Mountain Power is the best in Wyoming because it has more of a commitment to renewable energy. Its net metering program as a whole generates more applications and usage.
If a customer produces and sends less energy back to the grid than they use, the customer will be billed the difference at the standard service rate. However, if the customer produces more electricity than they use in a month, they will be billed appropriate monthly charges and financially credited for the amount of excess generated energy at the standard service rate. Credits can be carried forward indefinitely.
When customers generate more energy than they use in a month, the customer will be billed the appropriate monthly charges and credited for net metering energy with a cumulative kilowatt-hour (kWh) credit on their bill. The credit is applied to the next month’s bill. The value of net metering credits is determined for residential customers by the current rates in schedules 1, 2, or 3. All unused credits expire in March of each year.
Customers who produce more electricity than they use in a month will be billed the appropriate monthly charges and credited for each kWh of excess energy generation. These credits appear on the bill for the following month and do not expire. At the beginning of every calendar year, unused credited are sold to Rocky Mountain Power at the average wholesale energy rate for winter and summer, which is determined in Schedule 37 avoided cost rate. The current “avoided cost” rate is approximately 3 cents/kWh.
Rocky Mountain Power does not offer rebates for customers to install solar panels at their property. However, the utility offers the Blue Sky renewable energy program that allows customers to support renewable energy development by paying $1.95/month to help bring new renewable energy facilities online. This option is especially desirable for customers without the means to install a solar panel system.
“Interconnection” refers to the process of connecting a solar power system to Rocky Mountain Power's grid. From start to finish, the interconnection process takes about 70 days. Customers are responsible for all costs associated with any modifications that may be required to interconnect to the larger grid.
For residential customers, a solar panel generation facility will usually fall into the Tier 1 category. Tier 1 properties have a maximum capacity of 25 kW and must be located on the customer's property. To connect, a customer must submit an Interconnection Agreement, which includes:
Once submitted, Rocky Mountain Power reviews the agreement and application and sends written notification of approval to the customer by either mail or email. Once the approval is received, the net metering system will be installed.
After installation, the net metering system must be inspected by the local city or council inspector. The solar panel system’s net meter can be turned on after Rocky Mountain Power provides notification the interconnection process has been completed and the net meter installed. The application for customers in all states is the same except that a diagram is not required for customers in Utah and Wyoming if their system is smaller than 10kW; in Idaho, all interconnection applications must include a diagram.
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