On Dec. 20, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission voted 3-0 against Idaho Power’s proposal to gut solar net metering in our state. Thank you to the PUC for standing with the public interest. Idaho Power had proposed to cut by half what it pays to solar producers for power generated onto the grid. This would have abruptly halted solar deployment in Idaho, just as it has become a fast-growing, quality job creator. Idaho’s solar costs fell 36 percent over the past five years, the industry employs 557 people and has invested $640 million in the state, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association.

    Idaho Power’s proposal ran directly counter to Idaho values of freedom and security, market competition and conservation. It effectively would have kept individuals from generating their own power, making our grid less resilient and undermining our economy and environment. Sun Valley Institute conducted Idaho’s first “Solarize” solar adoption campaign in 2016, resulting in $1 million in local investment and five times more solar installed than the previous year. We have since identified backup power opportunities at critical infrastructure (fire, police and medical) facilities to provide security and cost savings. Changing Idaho’s solar rules undermines these opportunities.

    With this ruling, existing Idaho Power customers with solar will continue to be paid the same price for their power as what they pay for electricity from the grid, but the rules for future solar owners depend on a PUC-ordered study of the costs and benefits to the grid of customer-generated solar. Solar is a strategic asset for Idaho’s economy, for our health, air and water, and for our future.

    Thank you to everyone who commented to the PUC; we all need to protect our rights to grow energy resilience for our community, state and beyond.

Aimée Christensen, Executive director, Sun Valley Institute

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