Utah Sustainable Transportation & Energy Plan
Utah legislators passed the Sustainable Transportation and Energy Plan, March 10, marking an important and positive "STEP" for customers and the state of Utah.
The bill addresses Rocky Mountain Power's STEP initiative announced in October 2015 to deploy electric vehicle infrastructure, research clean coal technologies, and investigate the potential for battery storage and other emerging technologies. It also deals with demand-side management accounting, coal plant depreciation, renewable energy tariff options, and power supply cost recovery.
"Our customers have told us they want clean energy options and clean air. SB 115 sets policy that allows us to explore new technologies and innovative programs to accomplish that goal. But our customers also want reasonably priced electricity, so this bill gives us the financial flexibility to change along with the industry while managing customer price risks," said Jeff Larsen, Rocky Mountain Power vice president, regulation.
STEP Pilot Programs
The legislation establishes a 5-year pilot program to provide mandated funding for electric vehicle infrastructure and clean coal research, and authorizes funding at the commission’s discretion for solar development, utility-scale battery storage, and other innovative technology, economic development and air quality initiatives.
These programs will be funded by consolidating two existing surcharges – the Customer Efficiency Services charge and the Utah Solar Incentive Program surcharge – with minimal impact to customers.
Renewable Energy Tariff
Rocky Mountain Power offers a Renewable Energy Tariff to meet the needs of large customers with renewable energy goals. The program is attracting interest from businesses looking to expand in Utah.
Risk Reduction Fund
The legislation allows the company to change its accounting for energy efficiency services and programs and to create a regulatory liability for accelerated depreciation of its coal-fired plants without a change in customer prices.
Energy Balancing Account
The legislation also will create an energy policy that allows for a consistent recovery of variable costs of energy production in providing electricity to utility customers.
“These are costs that we don’t have control over and don’t profit from,” Larsen explained. “Under the new legislation, the company will recover its prudently incurred costs after a full review of those costs by the PSC.”