No installation required: You, too, can buy solar energy

USolarPanel07By the Sustainability Office

Thought solar was out of your reach? A new program is making it easier for long-term renters, those not ready to make the initial investment in rooftop solar, or those with issues that prevent solar, such as too much tree shade or too steep of a roof to buy clean energy.

Solar Subscriber is a program from Rocky Mountain Power that allows the company’s customers to start purchasing some—or even all—of their energy needs from solar. The power will be generated at a forthcoming 20-megawatt solar farm being built in Millard County, Utah that is set to open in early 2017. Subscribers can sign up to buy the solar energy in 200-kilowatt-hour blocks beginning today.

So, what does it cost, anyway? While it depends on how much energy you buy, in general each 200-kWh-block will cost $23.40 per month. The rate per kWh is 11.7 cents, which is slightly higher than Rocky Mountain Power’s standard rate of 8.9 cents per kWh. However, according to Rocky Mountain Power, some customers may actually save money by signing up for solar because of tiered pricing when energy use exceeds 1,000 kWh a month. The price is also locked in for 20 years, protecting those in the program from future electricity rate increases. The subscription can move with you, as long as you stay within the Rocky Mountain Power service area, which covers most of Utah. There is a $50 fee per power block if canceled within first three years of enrollment.

In an email to its followers last week, local clean air advocacy group HEAL Utah applauded the program. Michael Shea, a policy associate for HEAL, wrote that Rocky Mountain Power’s new Subscriber Solar is green energy “produced right here in Utah. This is a big plus because it increases Utah’s overall clean energy portfolio and gives options for individuals that cannot install rooftop solar in their home, but still want to support renewable energy.”

Learn more about the program from Rocky Mountain Power’s video explanation:

Ready to install solar on your own home? Now is a great time to do it, thanks to the University of Utah’s U Community Solar program, which offers U community members a streamlined process to purchase and install discounted solar panels for their residences. U Community Solar is open to University staff, students, alumni, and campus guests from Salt Lake, Summit, and Davis counties. The program is available through Sept. 30. Get started today!

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