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Utah’s solar boom might be more than its rebate can handle

Utah’s lucrative incentives for its residents to go solar has ignited exponential industry growth in 2016, causing its state legislators to worry the rewards might be too good and call a preemptive end to applications for rebates when the clock strikes 2017.

According to the Utah Daily Herald, the state, which now boasts approximately one solar panel for every three people, saw its solar capacity grow 14 fold from 2014-15, making it a national leader for renewable energy.

“The growth curve is basically vertical right now,” the Governor’s Office of Energy Development Jeffery Barrett told the Tribune.

Increasing fossil fuel energy rates in the past 5-10 years, coupled the decreasing cost of solar installation and state and federal rebates, has made it so that the per-kilowatt hour cost of solar is more than half as cheap.

For homeowners in Utah, recognizing the financial benefits was a no-brainer.

During 2016, approximately 7,700 residents have signed up for the Rocky Mountain Power’s net metering program. The number is more than double that of 2015, and there are still over 12,000 applications pending.

The boom was clearly more than state legislators had bargained for, with some of worrying it could cost the government over $42 million.

Others however, argue that the shift is a good thing and actually can save money in the long run.

Ryan Evans, President of the Utah Solar Energy Association, pointed out that the incentive is more of an investment than a handout, as numbers show the state can quickly recover its $2000 incentive cost within the first year through new jobs, taxes, increased property and equipment sales.

While legislators are yet to weigh in on a final decision to end the rebate program, one thing is sure–many Utahns are quick to make power while the sun is shining.

Author: Harold Tan

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