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A water war in Southwest Utah has ranchers and Native tribes concerned, federal solar subsidies could help communities transition to renewable energy, and Starbucks workers attempt to unionize.

Conservation Advocates Launch Solarize the Valley Campaign


Monday, May 9, 2016   

BOISE, Idaho – Clean energy advocates are launching a campaign this week called Solarize the Valley, an effort to promote renewable energy in the Treasure Valley by offering free estimates and a lower price on solar installations.

The kickoff event is this Thursday night at North End Organic Nursery in Garden City, followed by a series of workshops over the next month in Caldwell, Eagle and Meridian.

The workshops are being put on by the Snake River Alliance, which has teamed up with two local solar companies to do the work.

"It's a shame that Idaho only has .01 percent of the million solar installations across the country,” says Wendy Wilson, the Snake River Alliance’s interim executive director. “We have over 320 days of sun every year. There's no reason why solar energy can't be a bigger part of our electric grid."

The program is currently only in Ada and Canyon counties.

Wilson says the goal is to convince 50 home or business owners to install systems, which would add 250 kilowatts of renewable power to the grid.

Most systems require an initial investment of $5,000 to $15,000. The state offers 4 percent financing, and state and federal tax credits knock the cost down by more than a third.

Wilson says owners of these systems generally make back their investment in 8 to 12 years as the panels send power back to the grid, part of Idaho Power's net metering program.

"Existing Idaho Power customers will be able to actually turn their meter backwards when it's sunny and then, have a credit towards future energy use at Idaho Power," Wilson explains.

She adds that the Alliance has voiced concerns about hydropower, nuclear and coal-fired power plants for decades because of their destructive effects on the environment, and this program is an effort to promote a clean alternative.

A separate, similar program is also running this summer in Blaine County.

More information is online at SolarizeTheValley.org or

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