"Temporarily extending the program for one year will provide more time for the development of an ongoing program," the PSC said in its order, which also indicated it wants the state's Division of Public Utilities to lead that effort.
Sara Baldwin, a senior policy associate at renewable-energy advocate Utah Clean Energy, said the PSC's order was an important victory for program proponents.
If the utility's program had been allowed to expire, those who support solar power development in the state would have faced additional regulatory hurdles to get a similar incentive program re-established, she said.
Investing in renewable solar power makes sense for consumers and the company, Baldwin said, indicating Utah Clean Energy hopes to play a role in coming months in helping establish a long-term effort.
Baldwin pointed out earlier this month that compared with other nearby states, the size of Utah's program was extremely limited. It had enough funding to encourage the development of only 30 or so systems annually, or around 107,000 watts, with the incentives paid out relative to the size of the systems.
"We're surrounded by states that offer incentives for several megawatts per month," she said.
Rocky Mountain Power wasn't eager for the program to continue, arguing that it had accomplished its objectives and provided the company with valuable information about the use of solar power systems by its customers.
Still, the company said it was comfortable with the PSC's decision. "We're happy to do what [the PSC] thinks is best," said utility spokesman Dave Eskelsen.
Solar Incentive Program information
O Although Rocky Mountain Power isn't yet accepting applications for 2012, general information about the utility's effort can be found online.