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Rocky Mountain Power's STEP legislation failed narrowly in the House Thursday afternoon, but environmentalists remain concerned that the bill may return from the dead.

SB115 — which would restructure electrical rates and provide funding for Rocky Mountain Power's Sustainable Transportation and Energy Plan and a rainy day fund for the utility, while offering several environmental perks — went down 33-40 in the House of Representatives.

The bill's sponsors made several amendments before the vote, giving the Public Service Commission — the three-member body that oversees utilities in Utah — more leeway in deciding which portions of SB115 it would ultimately implement.

But the amendments stopped just short of allowing the Public Service Commission to review the utility's request to pass 100 percent of costs that exceed the company's initial projections on to customers after opponents complained that such a change would upset the balance of the bill.

Rocky Mountain Power projects its operating costs on an annual basis, and reports its actual costs one year later. Currently, if the company's costs are higher than projected, 70 percent of the overage is passed on to ratepayers. The other 30 percent is absorbed by the company.

Company representatives argue the change is necessary to help the utility manage costs and free it up to explore experimental energy technologies.

Rocky Mountain Power and the bill's sponsors have lobbied heavily for the bill, convincing many of the proposal's opponents to withdraw their opposition in exchange for additional environmental concessions.

Those groups remained officially neutral regarding the bill's status after Thursday's vote.

But other environmental groups, such as HEAL Utah, were actively fighting Thursday evening to make sure the bill stayed dead. Matt Pacenza, HEAL's executive director, said he had no doubt Rocky Mountain Power could and would try to revive the bill before the midnight deadline.

"Everyone has said they have practically the biggest lobby up there," he said. "But our people are fighting back, too, and there is a small army of people who care about clean air and clean energy."

Representatives from Rocky Mountain Power said they would not issue a statement until after the official end of the legislative session, at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

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