Idaho Power Throwing Shade on Rooftop Solar, Supporters Say
Thursday, August 4, 2022
Idaho Power has commissioned a study which found the rate it pays for rooftop solar customers to send their power back to the grid should be lowered.
The monopoly energy company sent its study to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission for consideration, suggesting net metering rates be cut by roughly 60%.
Alex McKinley, owner of Empowered Solar in Boise, said the state has a great solar resource, but a cut in rates would likely hurt efforts to install panels on roofs.
"Their goal as an investor-owned utility is to make profits, and they see residential distributed generation as a threat to their profits," McKinley asserted. "I think that comes out pretty clearly in the way this study was conducted."
Idaho Power said a reduction in rates is a matter of fairness. It said infrastructure costs, for example, are pushed onto other customers at the current net-metering rate. The utilities commission is taking public comment on the study's results.
Mike Engle, chair of the Portneuf Resource Council, does not believe the suggested rates will kill the solar industry but noted it would take longer for customers to pay off their systems.
Engle argued it would be best to motivate people to move toward rooftop solar with the current rates because it will protect the environment and also supports local economies with jobs.
"Idaho Power and the Public Utilities Commission should ensure that all of Idaho's residents have the ability to participate in Idaho Power's goal of migrating to clean energy," Engle emphasized.
Idaho Power has committed to using 100% renewable energy by 2045. Engle is pushing for a third party to evaluate the numbers in Idaho Power's study.
McKinley noted Idaho and other states are feeling the pressure from a changing climate, putting strain on energy grids.
"Distributed generation makes the whole grid more resilient," McKinley stressed. "The public, whether they're someone who has rooftop solar or not, wants a more resilient grid."
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