New solar policies and programs jumpstart Utah’s solar market

Salt Lake City was the site for the 3rd Solar America Cities (SAC) gathering last month where Solar Salt Lake was the  recipient of SAC’s Barrier Buster Award for its efforts to improve Utah’s net metering rules.  Congratulations.  According to Sara Baldwin, Utah Clean Energy, Solar Salt Lake continues to explore creative financing options for residential and commercial entities with the goal of increasing Utah’s solar generation to 10 MW by 2015, with the underlying goal of making solar financially attractive.  The Solar Salt Lake Partnership is a collaborative effort among Utah Clean Energy Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Kennecott Land, Ballard Spahr, IREC/Keyes & Fox, the Utah State Energy Program, and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.  The partnership also works closely with solar/renewable energy industry groups (Smart Energy Coalition, Solar Nation, Vote Solar, Utah Solar Energy Association, and Interwest Energy Alliance) and a strong coalition of businesses, local governments, schools, and organizations.

In addition to the news about Solar Salt Lake, Baldwin wanted to share more solar news and activities from Utah.  Here’s her report:

Salt Lake County (Utah’s largest population center) is poised to single-handedly double the amount of installed solar energy in the state, thanks to a new policy, House Bill 145 S02 – Renewable Energy Financing Provisions, and available American Reinvestment & Recovery Act (ARRA) funds.  House Bill 145 S02, signed into law in March 2010, enables access to third-party financing for renewable energy for Utah’s schools, universities, churches, and government entities. While the policy does not extend to tax-paying entities, the bill’s passage is an important first step that will help expand Utah’s solar market and facilitate large-scale solar projects across the state.

On April 14, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon announced the County’s plans to issue a request for proposals for 1 Megawatt (1 MW) of solar PV on up to four of their facilities.  Fortunately, the County will be able to take advantage of this new financing arrangement, without which the project might not have gone forward.  The County is already the proud owner of a 100-kW solar PV project on their new public works facility (completed at the end of 2009), and Mayor  Corroon has set a goal to install an additional 11 MW of solar to be dispersed between as many county-owned facilities as possible.  Without a doubt, third-party financing will be critical to achieving this ambitious goal.  Another non-profit entity that stands to benefit from Utah’s new third-party financing policy is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS Church), who has recently completed construction on three solar powered, LEED silver meeting houses (one of which is in Utah).  Third-party financing will likely help make these projects more financially viable and may entice the LDS church to consider solar energy for more of their facilities (of which there are thousands) across the state.

On the residential and commercial front, Utahns will be able to take advantage of an exciting new solar rebate, offered through the Utah State Energy Program (SEP) using ARRA funds.  The $2/watt incentive is expected to jumpstart Utah’s solar market, put people (back) to work, and make solar more affordable for more homeowners and businesses across the state.  The $3 million solar PV rebate program for homes and businesses in Salt Lake City will launch the end of April 2010 and is expected to fill up quickly.

And if you’re craving yet more information about solar activities in Salt Lake City, Sara offers these resources:

Solar Cities America project shine light on hope for sun power – Deseret News, April 14, 2010

Salt Lake County’s solar future could get brighter – Salt Lake Tribune, April 14, 2010

Herbert, Corroon differ on energy development – KSL Channel 5, April 14, 2010

LDS Church unveils ‘green’ meetinghouse – KSL Channel 5, April 27, 2010

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