BOISE – (Aug. 9, 2016) – Solarize the Valley, the campaign led by the Snake River Alliance to install rooftop solar power across the Treasure Valley, reached another milestone this week. Solarize the Valley participants Mary Lucachick and Tony Engleman installed a 3.33kW rooftop solar array on their home and became Idaho Power’s 1,000th “net metering” customer.
Solarize the Valley is a key part of the Alliance’s decade-old campaign to shut down the out-of-state coal plants that still provide up to 40 percent of the electricity consumed in Idaho and to replace that dirty energy with clean renewable electricity and energy-saving conservation and efficiency.
A special electric meter, stamped “#1,000” was installed at the Lucachick/Engleman household. The meter measures electricity flowing into the home from Idaho Power and feeds solar power from the rooftop directly into the power grid.
I love watching my electric meter run backwards. I know on a 110 degree day at 5 pm, when most of our energy is coming from coal and gas, I am part of the solution.
The net metering program is used mostly by electric customers who have solar panels, but also includes roughly 100 wind and hydropower generators as well. The net metering program began nearly 3 decades ago when Idaho complied with federal regulations to encourage renewable energy. It continues to be a great way for all of us to “green up” our electricity.
The goal of the Solarize the Valley campaign is to install at least 250kW of new solar generating capacity and add at least 50 new homes and businesses to the program. Approximately 400 homeowners signed up for free site assessments to find out if their homes are suitable for solar panels. By doing so, they are taking advantage of special rates with the Alliance’s selected contractor, AltEnergy and help benefit the Alliance’s clean energy program.
The deadline for residential customers to join the Solarize the Valley campaign’s 2016 Season is over, but we’re still looking for more commercial energy users (including churches and businesses) that want to go solar. The deadline for commercial sign ups that was originally July 31st, has been extended until August 31st. Interested church leaders and business owners can get information and receive a free site assessment at Solarizethevalley.org.
Campaign spokesperson Ken Miller with the Snake River Alliance said, “We set out to increase use of net metering and it is exciting to see that it is working and so many citizens plugging into the sun.”
The residential sign-up phase was successful, but the campaign hasn’t met the 250kW goal yet. Miller said, “This is a great investment for homeowners in Idaho and this program makes it easier. We have 65kW under contract already and hundreds of participants are still receiving bids or reviewing proposals from AltEnergy. Participants have until the end of October to decide if solar is right for them.”
Solarize the Valley is modeled after similar successful programs across the country, starting in Portland, Oregon. Over the past several years, many Solarize programs have operated in the Northwest and across the nation.
The Snake River Alliance is a nonprofit, charitable organization that has worked for 37 years for responsible handling of nuclear waste and a future for Idaho powered by clean energy. The group has offices in Boise and Pocatello. Volunteers and new community supporters can help by contacting [email protected].
Additional community supporters include Idaho Smart Growth, the Idaho U.S. Green Building Council, the Sierra Club, Idaho Conservation League, North End Organic Nursery, Payette Brewing Co., Wheeler Homes, Fresca, Hilton Garden Inn Eagle, the Boise Consumer Co-op, Bardenay Restaurant & Distillery, and League of Women Voters.
Solarize the Valley is a groundbreaking program in which Idaho Power customers in Ada and Canyon Counties can combine with solar installers selected by the Snake River Alliance to make it easier and cheaper than ever to install solar panels on their rooftops and slash their monthly power bills. Understanding that shopping for and installing solar panels on your rooftop can be an intimidating experience, Solarize the Valley helps navigate the process by doing much of the consumers’ homework, including negotiating competitive prices for high quality, American-made solar panels.
Site Based Energy, a Hailey-based firm, is working with commercial participants in the program. Residential customers are working with AltEnergy, a company that works in a number of states. Both companies are also participating another Solarize program, “Solarize Blaine,” aimed at helping Wood River Valley homes and businesses make the jump to solar. Combined, Idaho’s two new Solarize programs are showing our utility customers are fired up about wanting Idaho Power to plug into the sun.
The deadline for commercial sign ups has been extended until August 31st. Interested church leaders and business owners can get information and receive a free site assessment by emailing or visiting Solarizethevalley.org.