Idaho may have received a “D” on the website LetsGoSolar but the people of Idaho are investing in solar faster than ever.
One year ago there were zero solar farms in Idaho’s portion of Idaho Power’s service territory (which also includes part of Oregon) and less than 1000 net-metering (small generators of wind and solar). Now there are eight utility-scale solar farms in the Boise area and approximately 1200 small generators.
The Alliance’s 2016 Solarize the Valley program and the Solarize Blaine program signed up 600 Idaho families for solar assessments. These two programs facilitated installation of 80 new rooftop solar systems totaling over $1.5 million and 425kW of electric capacity in just a few months.
There are now eight utility-scale solar farms within an hour-and-twenty-minute drive of Boise. The largest is near Grandview, Idaho. It’s 80MW. The next biggest, at 40MW, is the Idaho Solar 1 project on Cloverdale Road about nine miles south of Overland Road. Third in size is the 20 MW Simco Solar farm about halfway between Boise and Mountain Home. It sits on the south side of I-84 just east of the Simco Road exit and comes right up to the freeway fence. It is easily visible from I-84.
There are also three new solar facilities near Vale, Oregon, about 15 miles west of the Idaho border in Idaho Power’s service territory and one south of Nyssa, Oregon.
The final one is in Ada County on the Kuna-Mora Road west of the intersection with Cole Road.
LetsGoSolar and similar websites see the lack of state tax incentives and low electric rates as impediments to progress, but Idaho has a lot of sun and a bright future. In 2017 the Alliance will organize another Solarize the Valley program and support Idaho Power’s new community solar program. This new program is signing up renters and smaller residential customers and helping them tap into the sun as well.
– Wendy Wilson, Executive director (with thanks to Reed Burkholder for help with research)