As Utah coal slumps, solar energy booms

Deseret News reports: The sun is becoming big business in Utah.

Whether it’s in the sun-drenched deserts of Dixie or the sometimes smoggy valleys of northern Utah, more and more homeowners are taking the plunge and betting that solar energy will pay off for them in the future.

The boom has pushed employment in Utah’s solar industry to a point well beyond the job numbers in a more traditional energy sector, Utah’s coal industry.

“Well, I figured I should just own my own power,” said Kerry Zacher, a Centerville man who got his rooftop solar system up and running at the end of September. “I got sick of paying high electric bills.”

He saw immediate benefits.

“September’s bill was roughly 150 dollars,” Zacher said. “October? Nine. Nine dollars.”

Zacher monitors the energy production from his solar panels with an app on his cellphone. He’s already learned that in northern Utah, there are good days as well as occasional very poor days when there’s not enough sunshine to provide for his power needs. On those days he has to rely on power from the grid. On sunny days, though, he often produces excess power that is traded back to the grid. [Continue reading…]

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