OGDEN – City Council members are seeking local residents’ input on a one-of-a-kind renewable energy program being developed in Utah.
The Renewable Energy Agency, created in August 2021, gives cities and counties the power to choose the source of their energy, making it a unique program.
In April 2019, the Utah Legislature passed Bill 411, enabling the Community Renewable Energy Program. Salt Lake City, Park City and Summit County began drafting legislation in 2017 to provide customers with greener energy options.
Ogden City Council Executive Director Janene Eller-Smith said city leaders are unsure whether renewable energy sources will include solar, hydro or wind as they are still in the early stages. stages of development.
Ogden City Council is currently working with Katherine French-Fuller and her team at Weber State University’s Center for Community Engaged Learning to send out 10,000 surveys to businesses and select households. The city is seeking community feedback on the importance of renewable energy as well as potential costs. The survey is expected to be mailed out on Friday and remain open for 30 days. Approximately 1,500 responses are needed for an accurate sample.
“People will probably say they think renewable energy is a good idea. But when you ask how much they’re willing to pay for it, that’s where the rubber hits the road,” Eller-Smith said.
The agency’s low-income committee designs the program with certain clients in mind. However, it has not been determined how they will be able to provide assistance to those who would like to participate but cannot afford it.
According to Eller-Smith, city council members have been concerned from the start about how low-income residents will be affected.
While the potential cost increase is still being discussed, Eller-Smith said renewable energy products are likely to be more expensive.
As with any municipal utility, rates must be approved by a state agency. Once the program is fully developed, it will be submitted to the Civil Service Committee for tariff approval.
If the city passes the ordinance, customers will have the option to opt out of the program, developed in conjunction with Rocky Mountain Power, provided they do not rent from someone who has the service.
If the city passes the renewable energy ordinance, it will be automatic. City officials are asking residents to be aware of possible billing changes, as there will only be a 90-day window, spanning three billing cycles, to opt out.
Eller-Smith said she doesn’t expect an ordinance to pass until 2023 at the earliest.
The agency’s goal is to be 100% operational with renewable energy options by 2030, but Eller-Smith said she thinks that goal is ‘really aggressive’ when the program doesn’t. was not yet fully developed.
In July 2021, Ogden officially joined CREP along with 12 other communities. The city paid half of $72,000 to be a member of the agency, with fees going to legal services, technical reviews and filing. The remaining balance is due around May or June.
Rocky Mountain Power representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.