PNS Daily Newscast - May 17, 2019 

West Coast immigrants' rights groups pan President Trump’s new immigration proposal as “elitist.” Also on the Friday rundown: Consumer advocates want stronger energy-efficiency standards. And we'll take you to a state that ranks near the bottom for senior mental health.

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Program to Bring Solar to Idahoans 'Back by Popular Demand'

Solarize the Valley has helped more than 100 Idahoan homeowners and businesses install solar panels. (SmitBruins/Twenty20)
Solarize the Valley has helped more than 100 Idahoan homeowners and businesses install solar panels. (SmitBruins/Twenty20)
May 22, 2018

BOISE, Idaho – A program to help Idahoans install rooftop solar is back just in time for the summer sun. The Snake River Alliance's Solarize the Valley project is heading into its third straight year of helping homeowners bring the power of the sun to their residences.

After year two, the alliance wasn't sure if the program would come back.

Wendy Wilson, executive director of the alliance, says she thought the program may have saturated the market. But that wasn't the case.

"Basically, Solarize the Valley is back by popular demand," she says. "People wanted to have another opportunity to put rooftop solar. Solar is still growing in Idaho, and that's because prices are as low as they're going to be for a while."

Solar power might be facing other potential setbacks in Idaho. The state's Public Utility Commission approved Idaho Power's proposal to put net metering customers - people who generate their own electricity - into a different rate class.

However, the PUC hasn't decided what this means for rooftop-solar customers. Federal tax incentives still are available, but face an uncertain future.

Solarize the Valley has helped more than 100 homes and businesses install solar panels. It will have a kickoff workshop on Wednesday at the Altenergy office in Garden City. People can sign up online for a free assessment.

Wilson says Solarize the Valley also has generated interest in electric vehicles. She hopes to bring as much low-carbon electricity to people as possible, and then put more vehicles onto that clean-energy grid.

"So the long-term plan for how we actually fight climate change is to solarize the grid and electrify our vehicles," she explains.

Wilson says the goal is to get 300 people to sign up for free assessments and 30 people to install panels this year.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID