POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - While the holiday lights may bring us some much needed joy, power bills can certainly darken our spirits.
“Today, if you have a solar (power) system, you generate your own power, so you see a little less on your power bill," said Idaho Conservation League's Ben Otto.
“If you have an extra kilowatt that you don’t use at your home, it goes onto your grid and Idaho Power pays you a credit."
Idaho Power Company is proposing a change to how much customers get back from generating their own power. Typically, people use roottop solar panels to do this.
Otto said the change would mean less money in those customers' pockets, specifically those who generate extra power that they export to Idaho Power.
The proposed adjustment would cut their credits in half within an eight-year reduction period. Otto said that's not fair to the customers who started creating their own power under the original circumstances.
“You put a solar system on your house, and if you produce an extra kilowatt hour, Idaho Power pays you a credit for the same price as what you would pay to buy from them. We think that was fair,” Otto said.
While the Idaho Conservation League agrees with most of Idaho Power's proposed changes, which can be read here, the organization is worried this adjustment would deter Idaho's progress toward solar and clean energy. With fewer financial benefits, Otto thinks fewer people will take on the project of generating their own energy.
“I think we’ll see a slower and maybe even stagnant solar market for a couple years in Idaho,” Otto said.
Up to a third of Idaho's energy comes from out-of-state fossil fuels, according to Otto, ICL's Energy Associate, which he said not only adds pollution to the air, but also drains money out of Idaho.
“Investing in solar here in Idaho, that money stays here, it puts your neighbor to work putting the system up, it’s clean energy, so we keep our air clean,” Otto said.
At this time, the proposed change is available for public review and will be put up for approval by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission.
Comments can be sent to the PUC via their Case Comment or Question Form, which can be accessed here or on their website under the Consumer tab. The case number for this issue is IPC-E-18-15. More information about this case can be found here.
There will be two public forums in December, one via phone comments and the other at the PUC. More information will be posted at a later date.