Utility company invites customers to digitally sign solar panels

Utility company invites customers to digitally sign solar panels

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SALT LAKE CITY — Customers with Rocky Mountain Power's Utah Subscriber Solar program can now digitally sign their solar panels, company officials announced Thursday.

Rocky Mountain Power invited its Subscriber Solar customers to visit a new website and digitally sign the solar panels assigned to various commercial and residential customers.

"People who reserve these panels, they don't see their panels. So this is a way for them to go online and view where their panels actually are," said Rocky Mountain Power spokeswoman Tiffany Erickson.

The website shows a map of the entire solar plant, and visitors can view who owns which sections of solar panels.

"It's an effort to help our Subscriber Solar customers really have a feeling of ownership over the panels and the energy that their panels are producing," Erickson said.

So far this year, the plant has generated nearly 30 million kilowatt-hours of solar energy, enough power to support more than 2,170 homes, according to the website.

Using a 81,000-panel solar plant in Millard County, the Subscriber Solar program sends solar power to customers without rooftop solar panels. Consumers can buy part or all of their power from the solar plant to cut their energy use from other sources, the program's website states.

The program is aimed at customers who can't afford solar panels, don't want to worry about upkeep, or live where a roof isn't suited for installing solar panels.

"After signing up for the program, I realized much of the benefit without the expense or the look of solar panels and still feel like I’m doing my part to prevent global warming," Kim Kendall, a residential customer, said in a statement. "By far it is the fastest and most cost-effective way to migrate to alternative energy."

More than 2,500 residential and commercial customers have subscribed so far, exhausting the program's capacity. New customers are now added to a wait list.

Solar blocks are sold in 1-kilowatt parts, estimated to produce 200 kilowatt-hours per month, according to the website.

"Subscriber Solar allowed Salt Lake City to quickly and efficiently take a major step forward on our renewable energy goals," Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski in a statement Thursday.


Salt Lake City receives power from 2,994 blocks at the plant, as stated on the utility's company website. Other participating cities include Moab, with 94 blocks of panels; Orem, with 90 blocks; and Huntington with eight blocks.

"We’re now very excited about the new website and how this resource shares project information and a sense of ownership for those participating in the program," Biskupski said.

The new website launched amid recent negotiations between Rocky Mountain Power and solar companies.

Last November, the utility company asked for a change in net metering structure for solar customers.

Solar energy advocates argue the utility company's plan to raise rates for solar customers will make it impossible for residents to afford solar panels. The utility company says customers who don't invest in solar energy shouldn't pay more to compensate for those using solar power.

The debate now focuses on solar energy reimbursement rates to customers who want to send excess energy to the grid.

"We currently buy solar from two different sources: rooftop solar customers and solar farms," said Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Jon Cox. "The main difference between the two is that the state of Utah requires us to pay three times more for rooftop solar than solar farms. We believe that needs to change so our other customers aren't paying above-market rates for solar when other sources are readily available."

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Ashley Stilson


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