Under S.B. 202 -- to the extent that it is cost-effective to do so -- investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities and cooperative utilities must use eligible renewables to account for 20% of their 2025 adjusted retail electric sales. Adjusted retail sales include the total kilowatt-hours (kWh) of retail electric sales reduced by the kWh attributable to nuclear power plants, demand-side management measures, and fossil fuel power plants that sequester their carbon emissions. For example, if a utility has electric sales of 100 million megawatt-hours (MWh) in 2025, and 10 million MWh was produced at a nuclear plant, the utility would need to produce 20% of 90 million MWh from renewable energy sources to be in compliance.
While RPSs adopted by most states include interim targets that increase over time, Utah's goal has no interim targets. The first compliance year is 2025 (although utilities must file progress reports on January 1 of 2010, 2015, 2020 and 2024). Progress reports must indicate the actual and projected amount of qualifying electricity the utility has acquired, the source of the electricity, an estimate of the cost for the utility to achieve their target, and any recommendations for a legislative or program change.
Renewable Energy Certificates
Utilities may meet their targets by producing electricity with an eligible form of renewable energy or by purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs). SB 99, enacted in March of 2009 granted authority to the PSC to develop or approve a system to track RECs. The legislation specifically referenced the Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System (WREGIS) as an acceptable trading platform. To date the PSC has not adopted a system to track RECs.
For the purposes of the law, eligible renewables include electric generation facilities that became operational after January 1, 1995, and produce electricity from solar; wind; biomass (under certain conditions); hydroelectric (under certain conditions); wave, tidal or ocean-thermal energy; geothermal; or waste gas and waste heat. Solar-thermal installations can also count towards the goal with no limit, and their contribution is determined by assessing the amount of fossil fuel consumption they displace. HB 192 of 2010 added methane gas from an abandoned coal mine and methane gas from a coal degassing operation associated with a state-approved mine permit as eligible technologies. Additionally, HB 228 added municipal solid waste as an eligible technology. A third bill signed in 2010, SB 104, added compressed air energy storage as an eligible technology if the electricity used to compress the air was produced using a renewable energy resource, or if an equivalent number of RECs were purchased. Electricity may be produced within the state, or within the geographic boundary of the Western Electricity Coordinating Council. Notably, each kWh of electricity produced using solar energy counts as 2.4 kWh for the purposes of meeting the goal.