A representative from Rocky Mountain Power said recently that the company has plans to build a solar farm in Moab, near the golf course. It would be the area’s first community solar project, serving all area customers rather than any specific organization.
The project and its timeline are not yet final. Deb Dull, Rocky Mountain’s regional business manager for a handful of Utah counties including Grand and San Juan, was careful to point out as she presented the plan to the Moab City Council Thursday, Oct. 24, that she was not telling the city council “specifically” that the project was a reality.
“You guys see I’m not telling you specifically, ‘this is going to happen,’ because we haven’t done this before,” Dull said to the city council. “I’m sure we’re going to encounter things we hadn’t thought about.”
Despite potential challenges lying ahead for the solar project, studies on executing the project began in June, according to Dull, and preliminary project design started at the beginning of October.
Preliminary design is scheduled to finish by April; the company’s timeline has the construction contract set to be awarded by November of next year, and the solar farm is scheduled to be complete and operational in just under two years, by summer 2021.
Funded by… what?
As the plan stands, the construction portion of the solar project will be funded by Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky initiative. The program, in a quite direct sense, puts the question and challenge of funding the capital costs of building renewable energy farms directly to the company’s consumers.
Under the Blue Sky program, customers can pay a premium of about $2 or more on their monthly electricity bills in exchange for a promise that the money will go toward funding the production of electricity from renewable resources.
Customers can scale the premium upward if they wish to more aggressively fund renewable energy projects, or to cover the additional cost of sourcing their monthly electricity consumption wholly from renewable sources.
When a customer makes their monthly Blue Sky purchase, Rocky Mountain Power promises to generate or purchase a quantity of electricity equivalent in price to the customer’s purchase. It generates and purchases this electricity from wind farms, solar farms and other renewable sources and puts that energy onto the regional distribution grid.
Rocky Mountain Power has funded various renewable energy projects in Moab through its Blue Sky program since 2006, such as the solar panels on the Moab Arts and Recreation Center. The solar farm will be different, as it will serve the community as a whole rather than a specific institution, according to Tiffany Erickson, who is in charge of media relations for Rocky Mountain Power.