Making Headway: An Update on the Community Renewable Energy Program
As 2022 comes to a close, we want to give you an update on the exciting and important work that’s been happening with our goals and the program this year.
We’ve been steadily developing the governance structure and outlines of the program since it became established in state statute after the passage of HB 411 in 2019. You can learn more about the beginnings of this program and our carbon goals here.
This year we celebrated a total of 18 communities moving forward as of the July 2022 participation deadline. (There will still be another vote—likely in late 2023—by each participating community’s council to decide whether to participate in the final program once it’s approved by the Public Service Commission.)
The 18 communities form what’s called the Community Renewable Energy Agency, the interlocal government cooperative working to design this Program.
And, together, we can have a big impact on renewable energy development in the state and region! Collectively our communities represent about 25% of the electricity that Rocky Mountain Power sells in Utah.
The Program will bring new renewable energy resources to serve Salt Lake City and participating communities, so that by 2030, the amount of electricity we use annually will be matched by renewable generation.
This means the Community Renewable Energy Program has the potential to source 25% of the electricity the utility sells in Utah from renewable energy!
This is important because climate scientists agree that in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change on our health, ecosystems, economies, and societies, global emissions must be halved by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
Developing and implementing the Community Renewable Energy Program is one of leading strategies that Salt Lake City and other participating communities are taking to #ActOnClimate in line with these science-backed targets.
Community Renewable Energy Agency Updates
Low-Income Plan Committee
In 2022, the Low-Income Plan Committee of the Agency focused on supporting partner communities in the preparation of required “plans for low-income assistance” by conducting extensive research and facilitating engagement with low-income assistance organizations.
The Community Renewable Energy Program is designed to be an opt-out program where Rocky Mountain Power customers in participating communities are automatically enrolled into the Program with the option to opt themselves out.
Enrolling everyone at the outset will maximize the amount of renewable energy that is developed, with the accompanying climate and public health benefits. While the rate structure for the Program has not been finalized, it could include a small increase-we suspect somewhere between $2 and $7 per month for the typical household– to support the new renewable energy being brought on to the system.
While this extra monthly expense will be affordable for the overwhelming majority of Salt Lake City households, it won’t be for everyone.
Therefore, to help make the Program affordable for lower-income households, the Board of the Community Renewable Energy Agency recently voted to include three programmatic strategies brought forward by the committee that will be applied to all participating communities’ low-income plans.
- One strategy is the incorporation of an extra bill credit that would be given to lower-income residents who are both enrolled in the Community Renewable Energy Program and receive assistance from the Home Electric Lifeline Program.
- Secondly, if there is a termination fee for leaving the Program after the opt-out window closes, these residents would not have to pay it.
- Finally, the Agency has asked Rocky Mountain Power to explore offering a voluntary donation option for other ratepayers to support this expanded participation in the Community Renewable Energy Program.
Program Design Committee
The Program Design Committee works on program design matters with Rocky Mountain Power and state regulators and makes recommendations to the Agency’s Board. This committee hopes to bring a suite of recommendations to the Board in the coming months, so that Rocky Mountain Power can file a program application with the Utah Public Service Commission (the state regulators) by March of 2023.
At the January 9, 2023, Board meeting, the committee plans to present a draft model ordinance for Board adoption. The model ordinance will serve as the final step required of communities to finalize their participation in the Community Renewable Energy Program after approval by the Utah PSC.
Soon thereafter, the committee hopes to bring additional recommendations to the Board covering the required utility agreement with Rocky Mountain Power, projected program rates by customer class, proposed resource solicitation procedures, and other required items.
The Agency and Rocky Mountain Power are aiming for March of 2023 to submit a program application to the Public Service Commission for approval. After hopeful approval, participating communities will have 90 days to vote on whether to adopt an ordinance and officially commit to the Program.
- March 2023: program application submitted to the Utah Public Service Commission (PSC)
- September 2023: Public Service Commission decides whether to approve the program application (could happen as soon as June 2023)
- December 2023: Local governments decide whether to adopt ordinance to finalize participation in the program and the Agency decides whether to acquire renewable energy resources
Learn more: See the Sustainability Department’s 20-minute presentation to the Salt Lake City Council on Nov. 10. It’s Item Number 8 on the agenda that day. (Click the agenda item to see relevant attachments and be sent to the appropriate location on the YouTube video)
Stay in the loop!
- Subscribe to the Utah 100 Communities E-Newsletter
- Subscribe to receive notice of public Community Renewable Energy Agency Board meetings (scroll to the bottom of the page to subscribe)
- Follow Utah 100 Communities on Facebook
- Follow Utah 100 Communities on Instagram
Community Renewable Energy Agency Board Meetings
Please consider joining one of the upcoming Board meetings, which typically happen the first Monday of each month at 1pm (except for January):
Monday, January 9 at 1pm (special meeting date to accommodate New Year’s Day holiday)
Monday, February 6 at 1pm
Monday, March 6 at 1pm
Join in-person at Millcreek City Hall, 3330 S 1300 E, Millcreek, UT 84106
Join online using the GoTo Meeting details below: