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It’s crunch time for solar power in Idaho!

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We need all hands on deck to support clean energy at the PUC on June 24 and 30!
We've packed the room before!  Let's do it again.
The Snake River Alliance has been alerting you for months about a major solar power case at the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. Well, the day of reckoning is almost here, and we need to fill the PUC hearing room Wednesday, June 24, to tell the Commission we care about clean energy in Idaho and urge Commissioners to reject a request by Idaho’s electric utilities to derail solar power projects.


Here’s how you can have your say in defending solar power from yet another assault by our utilities!

Attend the June 24 public hearing to show your support for solar, even if you choose not to testify. The hearing begins at 7 p.m. at the PUC’s Boise offices at 472 W. Washington St. There will also be a telephonic hearing at 7 p.m. MDT on June 30, so customers from around the state who can’t make it to Boise can call a toll-free number to testify or just to listen in. The number is 1-800-920-7487 and the participant code is 76373262 and hitting the pound button on your phone. Let’s pack the room and the phone lines!

Submit written comments through the PUC’s website’s “Case Comment or Question Form” on its homepage at www.puc.idaho.gov.  You can also mail comments to P.O. Box 83720 Boise, ID 83720-0074, or faxed to 208-334-3762. Make sure to include the case number in all comments. It’s IPC-E-15-01 for Idaho Power customers, AVU-E-15-01 for Avista customers, and PAC-E-15-03 for PacifiCorp customers. Our PUC commissioners are Paul Kjellander, Mack Redford, and Kristine Raper.

Speak your mind in your comments and testimony – here are some thoughts to guide you! 

The big three utilities, led by Idaho Power but also including Avista and PacifiCorp, want the PUC to drastically shorten the terms of contracts with solar power developers from the traditional 20 years to just 2 years.  Everyone, including the utilities, knows a 2-year contract for a solar power project renders it almost impossible to finance. Whether that’s the utilities’ plan or not, it is unquestionably the result if they win.

Utilities have managed to convince a number of businesses and local governments to send comments to the PUC in this case, although most of those comments are remarkably similar. That’s why we need you to testify or write the PUC with your personal views. You don’t need to be a scientist or utility expert. The PUC is known for reviewing every comment it receives, and the more original, the better! Here’s a sampling of some possible messages:

  • Utilities are required to buy energy from small renewable energy projects under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), which Congress passed in 1978 during an energy crisis as a way to encourage renewable energy development. PURPA, now under full attack by Idaho utilities, helps us receive reliable, low-cost power, while the cost of coal will skyrocket with current and coming environmental regulations. That’s why utilities nationwide are retiring their coal plants and replacing them with renewable energy. Coal had its moment and even the coal industry says its future is dim.

 

  • If utilities have “excess power” as they say, then they should dial down the most polluting generation rather than trying to squash the cheapest, cleanest power.

 

  • Reducing renewable energy contracts from 20 to 2 years sends all the wrong messages about Idaho’s commitment to clean energy. Also, when utilities build new power plants or transmission lines, they give themselves decades to pay them off. It’s unfair –and just plain wrong – to demand energy developers play by different rules!

 

  • The Idaho Energy Plan, revised by our Legislature in 2012, ranks energy efficiency and renewable energy as priorities in meeting Idaho’s future energy needs.

 

  • Renewable energy, especially solar power, will be needed more than ever as our utilities inevitably phase out their use of coal-fired generation. Solar can and must be the primary replacement for our dirty coal power, which accounts for about 40 percent of electricity used by Idahoans.

 

  • A healthy renewable energy sector in Idaho means new jobs, economic stimulation and millions of dollars in new tax revenues for state and local governments. And that all takes place here so we’re not exporting our energy dollars to states where our coal plants are located.

You can read a brief summary of this case on our website here. You can read the PUC’s notice of the public hearing here and the entire case file, including public comments already submitted, here.

The PUC will also hold a technical hearing beginning at 9:30 a.m. June 29 in its Boise offices. It’s possible that hearing may run to June 30 or July 1. At the technical hearing, parties in the cases, including the Snake River Alliance, can present testimony and question those testifying, including utility witnesses.

Finally, there’s another way you can show your concerns about climate change through a broad effort to contact your members of Congress on June 22, in advance of Congressional Climate Message Day. It will be a great run-up to the June 23 event the next day, when 900 Citizen Climate Lobby volunteers will take to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and their staffs.

Go to the link above for more information, including a sample call message, sample tweets, a script template, and ways to find your Senator’s and Representative’s contact information. Or, you can call Sen. Jim Risch at 202-224-2752; Rep. Mike Simpson at 202-225-5531; Sen. Mike Crapo at 202-224-6142; and Rep. Raul Labrador at 202-225-6611.

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The Snake River Alliance has fought for the past decade to wean Idaho off its reliance on polluting, climate-changing coal. At the same time, and thanks to your support, we have worked to create a climate in Idaho that is welcoming to clean energy despite actions by utilities that drive clean energy entrepreneurs to neighboring states.

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