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The Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) wants to build 12 nuclear power reactors at the Idaho National Laboratory with a total capacity of 600 MW. UAMPS is a political subdivision of the State of Utah, and most of the reactors’ electricity would go out of state. But the project will cost the people of Idaho a lot anyway. Now, two bills in the Idaho Legislature would offer new state tax benefits to nuclear power developers.

Nuclear power uses more water than any other electricity source and produces dangerous nuclear waste. It costs more money, too. Per kilowatt, the math for the kind of small modular reactors UAMPS wants to build is even worse.

MORE WATER Nuclear power is a water hog. Of all the ways to make electricity, nuclear is the most water intensive because it uses so much for cooling. UAMPS says it has not decided on a cooling technology, but water is the likely choice. The 12-reactor power plant would use 18,000 acre feet of water per year from the Snake River Aquifer. Per kilowatt, that’s 25% more water than even full-sized nuclear reactors use. If the reactors are built, water users downstream from INL will have yet another reason to worry about nuclear impacts on the aquifer.

MORE NUCLEAR WASTE UAMPS’ modular reactors would use 40% more enriched uranium fuel than regular reactors to produce a kilowatt. That means UAMPS would produce more intensely radioactive spent nuclear fuel. There is no final repository for the spent fuel already in Idaho, and what UAMPS would produce would stay here, too.

MORE MONEY So far, the plan has cost $700 million, and if the reactors are built, the total cost will reach $3 billion. But UAMPS claims it will sell the electricity for 6.5c per kW to municipal power systems. To help get to that rate, which is still substantially higher than other electricity, UAMPS is counting on federal, state, and local subsidies. This is a well-worn path for nuclear power.

NuScale, the reactor designer, has already gotten hundreds of millions of dollars from US taxpayers. UAMPS is now looking to get federal money for half the cost of licensing the reactors. If the reactors ever go online, UAMPS will seek federal nuclear production tax credits. It will sign a 5-year lease with the Idaho National Laboratory to use 2 of its 12 reactors for research.

The Idaho State Legislature passed two bills that would give tax breaks for UAMPS should the facility be built and is considering a concurrent resolution on the project.

  • HB 591 would cap UAMPS’ county property assessment at $400 million, far less than the projected value.
  • HB 592 would exempt 1/6 of the whole plant from sales taxes because of INL’s plan to lease 2 of the 12 reactors.




Send your solar comments now! 

By March 9, send comments in support of solar net energy metering to: on Idaho Power’s case IPC-E-17-13.  For suggestions on what to say to the IPUC click here.

Pocatello hearing: March 5, at 7 pm at City Council Chambers, 911 N. 7th Ave. Please attend — dressed in yellow — and show your support of solar energy.

Idaho Power feels that electric customers with solar, wind or micro-hydro are not paying their fair share. They want to put them in a separate rate class with the intent to raise rates later. The Snake River Alliance wants to defend affordable solar energy in Idaho. Studies by Lawrence Berkeley National Labs show that solar net-metering may actually lower retail electric rates. Idaho Power should encourage, not discourage, solar and distributed generation.

On March 8 and 9, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission will listen to testimony from the Alliance other intervenors. You can read our most recent testimony here. We now have a webpage on Net Metering —  follow this link to see more.  Let’s keep solar affordable in Idaho!

Do you want to learn about and improve our nation’s nuclear policies? Snake River Alliance members are invited to join our team and attend the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s citizen lobby days in Washington, D.C., May 20 through May 23. Being a citizen lobbyist is a powerful way to make a change. Contact Beatrice – – by Monday, March 5, to express interest or learn more about our 2018 “D.C. Days” citizen lobby team.

The Snake River Alliance’s Solarize the Valley program moved rooftop solar forward in Idaho. So far, 109 families across southwest Idaho installed solar panels through our program and added 763 kW to Idaho’s solar capacity. These families are just like any other Idaho Power customers, except that they produce part of their energy from solar panels measured on “net meters”. The Alliance supports these families and opposes changes in Idaho Power’s net metering program. The Alliance intervened in case #IPC-E-17-13. Public comments will be accepted until March 9, 2018.

What to say in your comments: The Idaho Public Utilities Commission should protect net metering and help keep solar affordable in Idaho. Clean energy improves our communities. Idaho Power is trying to bottle up the solar industry because the company isn’t ready for the future. The company should encourage more distributed energy generation and unleash wider innovation in the electric sector.

Idaho Power net metering customers are just like everyone else.

There is widespread public interest in solar energy in Idaho. The Alliance talked with nearly 1,000 families interested in going solar: people in urban and rural areas, families, retirees, and those with low, moderate and fixed incomes. They are just one small group of residential customers who want to generate cleaner energy.

Idaho Power’s proposal is unfair for customers with smaller solar arrays.

Most net metering customers will always buy part of their energy from Idaho Power. Under Idaho Power’s proposal, if a customer choses to install even one solar panel they would fall into a new class of customers for whom future rates and fees will be uncertain. Other customers that reduce their energy use through conservation do so without penalty. In some houses, installing a few LED light bulbs or getting a new refrigerator could have the same impact as adding a small solar system.

We need more solar, not less.

Idaho has one of the lowest solar adoption rates in the region. On September 30, 2017, Idaho had less than 1 residential solar installation per thousand persons. If the residential solar grew ten-fold, there would still be less one residential solar installation per 100 persons. Even Montana, with two-thirds our population and less sun, has more residential installs per capita. In Nevada and Utah, concerns about the growth of net metering customers have been addressed without creating a new rate classes for solar customers.

Solar won’t grow here as quickly as it has in other states. In Idaho there are no policies allowing solar leasing or power purchase agreements like in other states. Customers here must use local loans, home equity loans or cash to pay for their installations. Idaho Power’s proposal will hurt local solar businesses and green jobs and stifle innovation.

Idahoans have a right to reduce their energy bill and save money.

Solarize the Valley families invested $2.3 million in solar panels in the last two years. People have the right to make an investment to reduce their energy bill and save money. To put them into a new class of customers – for whom energy fees and rates will remain uncertain – sends the message that they are “second class” customers to Idaho Power.

Rooftop solar is an important part of Idaho’s future. But, changes to “net metering” policies could make it less affordable. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has now set times for two public hearings about solar net metering. Public comments can also be submitted on the IPUC website until March 9th  at this link regarding case number IPC-E-17-13.

Boise hearing : Thursday, March 1st at 7 pm, at the IPUC Hearing Room, 472 W. Washington St.

Pocatello hearing: Monday, March 5th, at 7 pm at City Council Chambers, 911 N 7th Ave.

What to say:

  • Ask the Commission to deny Idaho Power’s request to create a new customer class and keep solar affordable
  • Explain why you think solar is valuable to Idaho
  • Ask the Commission to protect your right to install solar without unfair charges or fees

Last year, Idaho Power cast a shadow on solar by proposing to put solar users into a separate customer class without committing to what those rates would actually be. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission will hear technical arguments from intervenors on this proposal in March. Boise attorney John Hammond will represent the Alliance and the Northwest Energy Coalition to present testimony from utilities expert Amanda Levin, with the NRDC.

Recently, the Idaho PUC staff submitted testimony that Idaho Power is already being fully compensated for grid operations and doesn’t need a new customer class. However, the staff suggests moving away from retail-value solar credits towards a lower value compensation plan for net meterers. The Alliance wants to make sure anyone who invests in clean energy gets to recoup the full value of their investment.

What if you can’t Solarize your rooftop?

Community solar projects can help smaller households go solar. Unlike “green tag” programs that support generic clean energy programs somewhere, community solar creates actual green electrons right in the community. The Alliance supports Idaho Power’s Community Solar Project, but the project is still only 14% subscribed after its first year. Idaho Power is trying to build the solar project anyway with the financial assistance of commercial customers and municipalities.

Idaho Power charges $562 per subscription to their Community Solar Pilot Porject. This provides around $25 a year in energy credits. For more information call Idaho Power at 208 388 2790. You can review or fill out a Participant Agreement here.