Op-ed: Utah leaders should restructure electricity market

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“The reality is Rocky Mountain Power has a state-protected monopoly on electric power covering nearly all of Utah. This one-size-fits-all electric scheme owned and operated by the utility doesn’t value the diverse interests and values of people throughout the state.”

Rocky Mountain Power’s proposed rate increases have raised the ire of solar companies in this state. Estimates suggest these rate increases will boost the bills for homeowners with rooftop solar equipment by about $19 per month.

To Rocky Mountain Power’s credit, there is plenty of room to debate what actually is the right type of ratepayer agreement for homeowners who have invested in solar. There is something to be said about all customers, including those with rooftop solar, paying their fair share. Without these changes to the rate structure, poorer consumers who can’t afford solar often end up subsidizing those who can.

But even if you don’t buy into the renewable energy “revolution,” ask yourself: Why can’t I choose my electricity provider the same way I choose a cellphone carrier or TV provider?

The reality is Rocky Mountain Power has a state-protected monopoly on electric power covering nearly all of Utah. This one-size-fits-all electric scheme owned and operated by the utility doesn’t value the diverse interests and values of people throughout the state.

A regulated monopoly is not the only option. Other states have pioneered ways to allow more consumers to get more of what they want from the electric power industry.

States across the nation have successfully restructured their electricity markets to allow consumers to shop for and purchase electricity based on what consumers value, rather than what utility executives or politicians want. Under a restructured market, a consumer in Park City who wanted to reduce their carbon footprint could elect to purchase their power from 100 percent renewable sources. Likewise, a consumer who wants to save money can shop for deals that don’t charge them for using power at night or on the weekend. A consumer with rooftop solar might select a net-metering contract…

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