On March 19, 2012, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed S.B. 12  into law, giving non-utility electricity consumers the ability to buy power directly from renewable energy generators. S.B. 12 is the product of close collaboration among state government officials, utilities, renewable energy producers, consumer groups, and industrial stakeholders, such as eBay, which initiated the effort to introduce legislation. S.B. 12 is intended to promote the development of the renewable energy market in Utah, a state that derives 94 percent of its electricity from coal. It also makes the state more attractive to companies that have embraced sustainable business practices and are looking for supportive locations to locate investment and jobs.
S.B. 12 provides both opportunity and flexibility for consumers looking to purchase renewable energy. Previously, only utilities were legally able to purchase electricity from renewable generators, but utilities are frequently sensitive to customer rate increases that may accompany renewable purchases. Large consumers were prevented from buying renewable electricity even if they were willing to pay more for it or viewed renewable electricity as a good long-term investment to protect against fossil fuel price increases. S.B. 12 offers a solution where consumers can negotiate directly with renewable generators and purchase electricity according to their willingness to pay, while still allowing Utah’s utilities to play a role in transmitting and distributing electricity. To reach a consensus, eBay, along with its partner stakeholders, created a working group to craft legislation, which helped the resulting bill pass unanimously in both houses of the state legislature. State officials hope the legislation will convince other businesses looking to embrace sustainability to invest in the state and help Utah to meet its goal to generate 20 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2025 .