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Millcreek Journal

Millcreek appeals to low- and fixed-income residents to join renewable energy program

Mar 08, 2023 11:46AM ● By Sara Milano

Energy: Low-income residents in Millcreek may soon get some relief on energy costs if they opt-in to a new renewable energy program the city council says. (Photo courtesy of Millcreek City)

Low- or fixed-income residents in Millcreek may soon get some relief on energy costs if they opt-in to a new renewable energy program, the Millcreek City Council says. 

In 2019, Utah passed the Community Renewable Energy Act, which outlines a program whose goal is “to provide cities with mechanisms…to source net 100% of electric energy from renewable resources by 2030,” according to the legislation.

The Community Renewable Energy Agency, comprised of municipalities and Rocky Mountain Power, will review resource bids and vote to acquire new renewable energy resources (including solar energy, wind and geothermal) that will interconnect with Rocky Mountain Power’s system. 

Eighteen Utah communities are participating in the Community Renewable Energy Agency, including Ogden, Salt Lake City, Moab and Millcreek with enough residents and businesses to represent 25% of Rocky Mountain Power’s Utah energy sales. 

The Community Renewable Energy Act has a provision which mandates that a proposed plan be established by each community addressing strategies and assistance for low-income residents’ participation in the program. 

At the council’s Jan. 23 meeting, Councilwoman Cheri Jackson presented on low-income assistance strategies for the Community Renewable Energy program. 

“The low-income plan group of the community renewable energy program has been working on outreach strategies to contact and notify those in each city who may be applicable for assistance or who may just need extra help in understanding the program and what their options are,” Jackson said. 

Those groups include households receiving housing assistance, households on a fixed income, and recently resettled refugees. Millcreek staff tasked with implementing the renewable energy initiatives will be posting notices in English and Spanish at certain organizations, such as the Millcreek Senior Center and the Department of Workforce Services Refugee Services office. They will also be sending mailed notices. 

An October 2022 presentation by Millcreek on the program outlines four program-wide strategies for low-income assistance. These are designed to assist households who may be “energy burdened,” a term which refers to energy costs as a percentage of household income. 

One of the strategies includes enhanced monthly bill credits for low-income customers who opt-in to the program. These are “designed to, on average, offset the extra cost of the program” and are funded by other participating customers. 

Customers receiving low-income assistance payments on their Rocky Mountain Power bills will be automatically opted-out of the program due to the expected additional cost of participation. They will also have their $30 termination fee with the power company waived.

If the city’s program application is approved by the Utah Public Service Commission later this year, Millcreek will pass an ordinance to officially enter the program. At that time, customers will be notified multiple times of the change to their power bills and will be given the choice to opt-out. The city estimates renewable energy procurement will begin in 2023 and the program will commence sometime in 2023 or 2024.