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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.

Today, the Snake River Alliance and the Northwest Energy Coalition filed testimony against Idaho Power’s proposal to change our solar net metering program. The Alliance’s technical witness in front of the Idaho Public Utilities Commission is Amanda Levin, Energy and Climate Analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council, based out of Chicago. We have included it here for you to look over. Many of our allied intervenors also filed testimony today, including Ben Otto of Idaho Conservation League.

The Alliance is defending your right to tap into the sun without unfair penalties or charges from your utility company. The next step is for rebuttal responses from the lawyers representing all parties to the testimony filed today. These will be due by January 26.

Thank you for your contributions to the Alliance to help support this work!

Public comments are being accepted at the IPUC, make sure to use Case # IPC-E-17-13 in your comment.

Public hearings are being scheduled for March 8-9 in Boise.

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:

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.