Should Summit County Be "Anchor" In Rocky Mountain Power's Renewable Program?

Feb 21, 2021

Credit Summit County

Summit County, which is one of nearly two dozen locales in the Community Renewable Energy program, could be deciding soon if they want to take a leadership role in the effort—and if so, how much expense is involved.   

Summit County is one of 23 cities and counties in Utah that signed on to a program to have Rocky Mountain Power supply their electricity from renewable sources.

County Council Member Chris Robinson noted that he attended a meeting on the program Wednesday with Council Member Glenn Wright and County Manager Tom Fisher.       

“Behind the scenes, there’s been work on a governance agreement.  And the governance agreement would determine voting and cost-sharing and rights and obligations.  And one of the next steps is to decide whether we want to go forward.   There’s a total budget of $700,000.   Summit County represents about 3 percent of that total, based on the number of megawatt-hours per year that we use relative to everybody else.”

There is a proposal for at least five participants to become “Anchor locations” who would commit to take on the initial expenses of the program, in case some other entities drop out.   

Robinson said the program includes Salt Lake City, Ogden, Orem and West Valley, who are much bigger players than Summit County.   

“I would hope that some of the bigger players would become anchors.  I think the reason for Summit County to possibly be one is not because we’re a big share of it.   And even if we were an anchor, our pro rata share backstopping it would be small, because we’re a small player to begin with.   But it would be to show leadership.  The county has demonstrated all along that it wants to be on the avant garde of managing our greenhouse gas emissions and migrating toward a net=zero environment.   And so it would be from a leadership role to do that, not because we’re anything big otherwise.”

He said the County Council Members haven’t made a decision, but will have to pretty soon.       

“They talk in the law about being jointly and severally liable.   If there are five of us in the $700,000, does that mean any one, they can come after and get the whole $700,000.   I don’t think so.  In this case, if we were one of, say, five, and proportionately, we’re 10 percent and the others, four, are the other 90 percent because they’re the big dogs, let’s say—than our proportional backstopping—guaranteeing, to use Roger’s word—would be 10 percent in my example.  So it’d be $70,000.  I’m just making these numbers up.  But it’s not like we’re betting the farm and gonna--we are singularly going to backstop the whole thing if everybody bails.   I’m not in favor of that, and I don’t think that’s what’s being asked.”

Summit County Council Member Chris Robinson.