The Wasatch Solar Project, an initiative of the Salt Lake City Corporation, addressed major barriers to solar and developed actionable strategies to propel Utah’s nascent solar market toward a cumulative capacity of 1,075MW of solar PV by 2024. Though Utah has some of the most plentiful solar resources in the nation, the solar PV market is still developing. Utah’s rapidly growing population, paired with its strong solar potential, yields tremendous opportunity for solar development in the state.
Utah’s cumulative solar capacity has drastically increased since 2009, thanks to the collaboration of Salt Lake City Corporation, Utah Clean Energy, and other active leaders and jurisdictions in the state. Since 2005, these partners have successfully completed numerous solar projects—funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative—to spur solar market growth. And in 2016, Utah became the second in the nation for installed capacity.
Through the Wasatch Solar Project’s collaborative stakeholder process, new partnerships are being built to ensure the continued success of solar development in Utah.
The project team, along with a broad set of stakeholders—including key decision makers from the solar industry; local and state government officials; business and community leaders; and utility, regulatory, construction, and finance representatives—set out to create a path for continued solar price reductions, increased market penetration, and improved market certainty for Utah’s solar industry and consumers. To establish this path, the project team created a comprehensive long-term solar deployment strategy for the state, conducted a net metering cost and benefit analysis of rooftop solar, accelerated a replicable C-PACE financing program, and integrated solar into emergency preparedness planning for healthcare facilities.
This case study highlights Utah’s first C-PACE pilot, the Hunt Electric Solar Project, a 72 module 23KW solar canopy, microgrid, and electric vehicle charging station completed in 2015.
The Wasatch Solar team and OED worked with lenders, law firms, and local municipalities to create a robust framework to give interested businesses access to C-PACE financing for building upgrade projects. Utah’s first C-PACE pilot, the Hunt Electric Solar Project, was completed on October 2015 and includes a 72 module 23KW solar canopy, micro grid, and electric vehicle charging station at Hunt Electric Inc.’s West Valley City headquarters. The OED is now accepting applications from potential C-PACE projects, from municipalities interested in offering C-PACE, and from companies seeking to become approved C-PACE contractors.
Spring 2015 marked the beginning of a Utah Public Service Commission-led effort to develop a framework for assessing the costs and benefits of net metering in Utah. The Wasatch Solar team participated in a series of technical working groups organized by the Utah Public Service Commission and engaged technical experts to present to the group. Working group members included local government officials, energy users, utility representatives, nongovernmental organizations, and solar industry professionals. The technical working groups addressed topics related to net metering, including:
The team presented the working group’s technical recommendations and evidence regarding an analytical framework for assessing the costs and benefits of net metering to the Utah Public Service Commission.
Essential information about solar and storage and how it can enhance resiliency.
The Wasatch Solar Project Team hosted a workshop for the Private Sector Preparedness Council—which increases disaster resilience by helping businesses plan for emergencies—to discuss the benefits of integrating solar in emergency planning. Representatives from Utah businesses learned about on-site solar installations and the potential for microgrids and solar+storage to increase their resilience in the event of a disaster.
A plan to grow Utah’s solar market focused on five key areas: Solar Markets & Access, Permitting, Interconnection, Utility Regulatory Models and Solar, Storage, and Resiliency.