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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Growing interest in solar power sparks IdPower proposal, SRA campaign

Amid growing interest in solar power in sunny southern Idaho, Idaho Power Co. is proposing a “community solar pilot program,” in which customers would be offered subscriptions at $740 each to help fund a new 500-kilowatt solar array to be built near a southeast Boise power substation. That would add solar power to the power sources the company provides. Subscribers would get monthly credits on their power bill; for a residential customer, that would come to $2 a month, based on current rates, for a single subscription. “This is not really a program for folks to use to save money on their energy bill, it’s an opportunity for people to support locally generated solar power,” said company spokesman Brad Bowlin.

The company is seeking approval from the Idaho PUC for the proposal; if approved, it hopes to begin enrollment in late summer or early fall, and have the project up and running by summer 2017 if enough customers enroll.

“Participation in the Community Solar Pilot Program is voluntary, and it gives participants the opportunity to use solar energy generated right here in Boise,” said Pete Pengilly, customer research and analysis leader for Idaho Power. He said the proposal was prompted by customer interest.

Meanwhile, the Snake River Alliance’s “Solarize the Valley” campaign has drawn more than 310 residential and business customers of Idaho Power in the Treasure Valley to sign up for free solar power assessments, in partnership with two local private solar installers. That campaign is aimed at signing up customers for an existing Idaho Power program called “net metering,” which essentially allows customers’ electric meters to run backwards when they generate more power than needed from their own rooftop solar panels, feeding that energy back into the system.

There’s more info on the “Solarize the Valley” campaign online here; there’s more on Idaho Power’s Community Solar Pilot Program online here. The company says, “The project is intended to gauge customer interest in utility-owned community solar.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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