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Boise, — One hundred and nine families in southern Idaho have installed rooftop solar panels in the last 18 months through the Solarize the Valley program. This is one sign that interest in solar energy is growing quickly in the Gem State. Another is that statewide the number of solar installations has doubled.

Snake River Alliance launched the Solarize the Valley project last year to educate people and to install at least 650 kilowatts of rooftop solar. The program surpassed its goal and installed 730kW, representing a $2.3 million investment in clean energy. This helped two installation companies, AltEnergy and Bluebird Solar and Light, to hire several more workers.

This flurry of installations spans Boise, Eagle, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Twin Falls, Emmett, Fruitland, Middleton and Wilder.

Boise homeowner, Jose “Memo” Cordova, is pleased with the results. “One of the main reasons I decided to get solar panels is to lessen my carbon footprint. I’m glad I got solar panels. They’re performing beautifully. I’ve seen a big reduction in my Idaho Power bill and am happy to be saving money, too.”

“I took out a home loan to get my roof replaced, and used part of that to pay for the panels. I think my panels are a long-term investment. I don’t see a downside to any of this.”

Cordova is not alone. The Solarize the Valley program helped 49 families invest $1 million in rooftop solar, in 2016. This year, 60 families signed contracts worth $1.3 million bringing the total to 109 families and $2.3 million.

Recent federal statistics that show the number of customers in Idaho using solar has doubled in the last two years to roughly 1,700. Solar adoption rates still lag behind most other mountain West states. Utah and Nevada each have roughly 26,000 solar installations and even Montana, with just 2/3rds of Idaho’s population has more than 2,000.

Still, Idaho Power has raised concerns and wants to change the net metering program. Net metering allows homeowners to generate some of their own electricity and send excess power back to the grid as credits. Each customer has a special electric meter and is billed for their net energy use.

The Snake River Alliance and other solar advocates have intervened in front of the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to support net metering. The Commission is now accepting testimony and is expected to rule on any changes in March, 2018.

More Information:

The Snake River Alliance is a nonprofit organization with members across Idaho and the country. For 38 years the group has advocated for responsible handling of nuclear waste, energy conservation and clean energy. The Alliance can be reached at: www.snakeriveralliance.org.

Sponsors of Solarize the Valley 2017 included: The Idaho Organization of Resource Councils, Idaho Smart Growth, Idaho U.S. Green Building Council, Conservation Voters for Idaho, Idaho Sierra Club, North End Organic Nursery, League of Women Voters, the Boise Co-op; Idaho Conservation League, the Funky Taco and Idaho Rivers Sports.

Nov 14 2017

Don’t Waste Idaho!

We can help protect Idaho if we all speak out.

Talk with your friends and family about the nuclear threats facing Idaho. Tell them public pressure can stop bad ideas and can protect Idaho’s shield against more nuclear contamination.

Contact public officials and tell them you don’t want to risk Idaho’s water.

Write letters to the editors of all Idaho’s papers and alert their readers to the dangers we face.

WE’VE SAID NO! WE MEAN NO!

  • The people of Idaho have said no to nuclear waste for decades.
  • The Idaho National Laboratory’s #1 Job is to handle the nuclear waste already here.
  • The 1995 Settlement Agreement, signed by the Department of Energy, Department of the Navy, and the State of Idaho, should not be abandoned.
  • Idaho’s ban on commercial spent nuclear fuel protects Idaho from a large, growing, very radioactive waste stream. It must be upheld.
  • Taking new plutonium-contaminated waste that can’t be promptly treated and removed risks turning Idaho into a nuclear dump.
  • The proposal to build an array of “small modular reactors” at INL would use Idaho’s water and leave us with more nuclear waste.

Contact our public officials and write a Letter to the Editor!

Governor Butch Otter
Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720
http://gov.idaho.gov/ourgov/contact.aspx
Attorney General Lawrence Wasden
Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720-0010
http://www.ag.idaho.gov/aboutUs/contactUs.html
Idaho Mountain Express
Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340
letters@mtexpress.com
Idaho State Journal
Box 431, Pocatello, ID 83204
https://idahostatejournal-dot-com.bloxcms.com/site/forms/online_services/letter/
Idaho Statesman
Box 40, Boise, ID 83707
www.idahostatesman.com/submit-letter/?rh=1
Lewiston Tribune
505 Capital St., Lewiston, ID 83501
letters@lmtribune.com
Post Register
Box 1800, Idaho Falls, ID 83403
letters@postregister.com
Times-News
Box 548, Twin Falls, ID 83303
http://magicvalley.com/app/contact/?contact=lett

SNAKE RIVER ALLIANCE

snakeriveralliance.org

208/344-9161   208/233-7212

Spend a crisp fall evening with your friends and the Alliance by joining us at the Fall Dinner this Saturday the 11th.  We will be at the Ahavath Beth Israel Community Center starting at 6pm and will be celebrating the completion of a successful year of Solarize the Valley as well as the homeowners who have decided to go solar.  Dinner will be provided by the Kibrom’s Ethiopian & Eritrean Restaurant.  Music will be provided by the Friday Night Jam Band.  Beer will be provided by Cloud 9 Brewery.  All we are missing is you!  You can still purchase tickets by going here or by calling the office at 208-344-9161.

Update – Oct 25, 2017

The Snake River Alliance is starting NEM NEWS — a periodic online newsletter for people concerned about the future of Net Energy Metering in Idaho. This is the first email to go out to the NEM NEWS list. We hope you will send us information to share, and use these short updates and take action to protect Net Energy Metering.

If you would like to join the mailing list you can sign up here.

NEM NEWS will help you stay informed about clean energy policy.

Latest News:

More and more people are producing at least some of their own electricity through rooftop solar panels or wind turbines. Across the nation this has made electric utilities consider increasing fees for basic access to the electric grid. In Idaho, the Idaho Power Company recently filed a request with the state to consider changes to the Net Energy Metering program.

The Alliance is one of many formal “intervenors” in the Idaho case. The intervenors met with the company to hammer out the case schedule. It seems that the company had hoped to fast track the case and wasn’t necessarily expecting this much push back on their filing.

So let us continue to surprise! We know there are many solar and renewable energy enthusiasts like you who are interested in the future of renewable energy in Idaho.

The following procedural time line is primarily for the intervenors in the case:

  • October 27th Dispositive Motions deadline
  • November 10th Party Response deadline
  • December 22nd Staff/Interviews direct testimony pre-file deadline
  • January 26th All Parties rebuttal deadline
  • February 23rd Idaho Power reply deadline

We also expect a full public hearing will be scheduled by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission on (or about) March 8-9.

You can help by providing comments to the IPUC via their website or snail mail. Please refer to case # IPC-E-17-13. Go to this link and add your comments by using the online form:

http://www.puc.idaho.gov/forms/casecomment.aspx

If you don’t do technology well (or prefer the old fashioned methods) you can snail mail your comments to:

Idaho Public Utilities Commission
P O Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720-0074

Or Fax them to
FAX: (208) 334-3762

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission Staff, Idaho Power and all intervening parties (including the Snake River Alliance) have agreed to a hearing schedule on Idaho Power’s requested changes to the net metering program. This agreement will be submitted to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission for its review and approval. The agreed-upon schedule sets a technical hearing date in March, 2018, which means that no changes in the program can occur until at least April, 2018.  We believe the Commission will also schedule and hold a public hearing to allow anyone to provide their testimony on this issue and become part of the record of the case.

Idaho Power has petitioned the IPUC for permission to create a new class of customers, requesting a separation between homeowners who installed solar systems before December 31, 2017 and those that installed solar systems after that date. The agreed-upon schedule means that people installing rooftop solar in the Idaho Power service area don’t face a December 31 deadline.

This case is attracting a lot of attention as there are 11 intervening parties and hundreds of written comments already submitted — the vast majority of which oppose Idaho Power’s request.The Snake River Alliance joined with the Northwest Energy Coalition to intervene to protect individuals who generate electricity via solar, wind, or water from being forced into a different electric rate class. This rate class could penalize users/generators and reduce their rate of return.

We at the Snake River Alliance feel that Idaho Power does not have the interests of all its customers in mind with this filing. Nearly 1,000 people contacted us in the past 18 months of our Solarize the Valley program, looking to minimize their dependence on Idaho Power. Our local business partners, AltEnergy and Bluebird Solar and Light, are currently helping many of those citizens invest in solar. Idaho Power’s filing of its’ case had placed a cloud of uncertainty over the program and Idaho’s solar installation businesses.

The Alliance is represented in the case by Boise attorney John Hammond who works at the firm Fisher Pusch LLP. We will be submitting written and oral testimony from members and experts. The filings in this case can be viewed on the Commission’s webpage at http://www.puc.idaho.gov/fileroom/cases/summary/IPCE1713.html.

What You Can Do: We ask that you stand with us to defend usage of renewable energy in Idaho.  You can send your comments into the IPUC via postal service, making sure you use case number IPC-E-17-13 and address your comments to the IPUC Commissioners:

Paul Kjellander, Kristine Raper, and Eric Anderson

Idaho Public Utilities Commission
P O Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720-0074
FAX: (208) 334-3762

You can also use the Idaho PUC website by going to this link: http://www.puc.idaho.gov/forms/casecomment.aspx

Paste the case number # IPC-E-17-13 into the form and submit your comments.

Some sample talking points could include:

1) Support equal access to the electric grid for all customers, including those with solar or wind power
2) Idaho Power should add more options for customers to generate and use green energy, not restrict options.
3) Idaho Power should be fairly compensated for access to the grid by all customers, not just those installing solar
4) The public needs full information on the benefits of having distributed energy and more solar as well as the costs.