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Groups Oppose Idaho Power Throwing Shade on Rooftop Solar

More than 4,000 rooftop solar owners could see big increases to their electricity bill under an Idaho Power proposal. (Brad Nixon/Adobe Stock)
More than 4,000 rooftop solar owners could see big increases to their electricity bill under an Idaho Power proposal. (Brad Nixon/Adobe Stock)
November 18, 2019

BOISE, Idaho – Rooftop solar customers could see big changes to their energy bills under a proposal from Idaho Power.

The utility company wants to cut in half the price it pays for excess electricity sent back to the grid from solar owners – a structure known as net metering.

Currently, Idaho Power credits owners at the same rate as what customers pay for electricity.

Briana Kobor, regulatory director of the advocacy group Vote Solar, says the change will lead to large bill increases for more than 4,000 customers who have invested in rooftop solar – and even put some of them underwater on those investments.

"Vote Solar and Idaho Conservation League have done some analysis of the impact of Idaho Power company's proposal and we found that the investment by at least 1,300 families and small businesses would become uneconomic as a result of the change," Kobor states.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is considering the proposal and taking public comments until Dec. 3.

Vote Solar and Idaho Conservation League submitted comments asking the PUC to protect the current net metering rate for existing customers for at least 20 years.

The PUC is holding public meetings by phone on Dec. 2 and at its Boise office on Dec. 3.

Kobor notes technology is making solar cheaper, but this rule change will put it out of reach for many, especially for folks who can afford it the least.

"To be frank, traditional power interests are working to stall progress to protect their old way of doing business,” she asserts. “Rooftop solar threatens Idaho Power company's monopoly profits and they're eager to slow its growth. We expect that if the settlement's approved and the rate paid for extra energy is cut by 50%, it will do just that."

Idaho Power serves more than 560,000 people in Idaho and Oregon. It has committed to getting 100% of its energy from clean sources by 2045.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID