The dedication of Idaho’s first utility-sized solar power farm south of Boise near Kuna on Sept. 16 marked an energy milestone for Idaho:
- At 40 megawatts, the solar plant built by DEPCOM Power off of South Cloverdale Road produces enough power for 9,000 homes a year and is the greenhouse gas-reduction equivalent of taking 5,500 cars off the road.
- The 560-acre project brought tens of millions of dollars into our communities during the construction phase, will keep dozens of new clean energy jobs here during its operation, and will provide millions more dollars to local governments, including to our schools and roads.
- It is the first “utility-scale” solar project to be connected to an Idaho electric utility, and Idaho Power deserves credit for helping to make it happen.
- And thanks to DEPCOM, local nonprofits such as the Idaho Youth Ranch and The Idaho Foodbank receive a portion of the proceeds from the energy project.
Looking out over the solar panels now spanning the Idaho Solar 1 energy farm in Ada County, we see the beginning of Idaho’s clean energy future. A state that currently relies on dirty, out-of-state coal power plants for 40 percent of its energy becomes cleaner and more sustainable as each of these projects is developed. As our coal plants continue their irreversible march toward retirement, they are being replaced with projects like these that bring jobs and dollars directly into our local and state economies while delivering direct and immediate health and environmental benefits.
The Snake River Alliance has spent much of this year with our clean energy partners and our colleagues and supporters to create a “Solarize the Valley” program to add rooftop solar to dozens of southwest Idaho homes and businesses. Our Solarize program is still under way, but already it has spurred more than $600,000 in new clean energy investments from Idahoans of all walks of life, and much more is on the way.
Add similar investments already being made through the “Solarize Blaine” campaign in the Wood River Valley, and the Alliance and our colleagues at the Sun Valley Institute for Resilience are generating more than $1 million in new solar power investments in southern Idaho this year alone.
And don’t forget the potential from new pilot “community solar” projects such as that now under consideration by Idaho Power, which will allow utility customers who might not otherwise be candidates for their own solar power to buy direct shares of solar power, and these exciting new solar opportunities spell the dawn of Idaho’s energy future.