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Anti-Solar Proposal Holds Back Idaho

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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.

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