Solar Power

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Update Friday, July 28: The Snake River Alliance is extending the deadline to sign up for its Solarize the Valley project. The deadline is now August 15.

Renewable energy is always a subject up for discussion. Idaho Power serves about 1,200 solar users, but across the country, there’s pushback from utility companies on renewables, specifically with the net metering process.

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State officials have approved a utility company's application to build a solar power project southeast of Boise funded by customers who take out subscriptions.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission late last week approved Idaho Power's application for the 500-kilowatt solar project that would be the state's first utility-owned solar power production facility.

Idaho Power is looking to build the state's first utility-owned solar power project.

The company recently filed an application with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission seeking approval for its Community Solar Pilot Program.

The proposed 500-kilowatt solar array would be built southeast of Boise and power about 1,000 homes and 500 businesses.

The company in an announcement last week says it plans to offer subscriptions costing $740 for individual solar panels. Buyers would receive credit for their portion of the solar array's output on their monthly bill.

snakeriveralliance.org

The clean energy advocacy group the Snake River Alliance today launched a campaign called Solarize the Valley. For the next 10 weeks the group will be trying to get as many people as possible in Ada and Canyon Counties to install solar panels on their homes and businesses.

courtesy Snake River Alliance

Idaho’s first commercial solar power project won’t be operational this month as predicted. But one of the companies involved in the project says it should come online by the end of May.

The state’s first solar power farm is on about 500 acres just southwest of Boise. When the project, known as Boise City Solar, is finished it will produce enough megawatts to power 29,000 homes during good solar exposure. That’s more homes than a city the size of Idaho Falls.

Who owns it?

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The company that provides most of southern Idaho with its electricity is ready to incorporate solar power into its portfolio for the first time. Idaho Power's foray into solar will be relatively small.

Currently about half of Idaho Power’s electricity comes from hydroelectric dams. A little more than a third comes from coal-burning power plants in neighboring states. There’s some natural gas, and about 7 percent comes from privately-generated, renewable sources, mostly wind. None of it, though, is solar. 

solar panel, energy
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An alternative energy company has applied for a 50-year state lease to build a $2 million, 50-acre solar project in central Idaho.

Ketchum-based Sagebrush Solar wants to install about 3,600 solar panels on six acres in Ohio Gulch north of Hailey.

The company says the project would produce about 1.1 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 160 homes.

Sagebrush Solar owner Billy Mann tells the Idaho Mountain Express that the company has completed 60 smaller solar projects in the Wood River Valley.

Graphic Artist: Sam Cornett / Solar Roadways Indiegogo

The solar panels that Idaho inventor Scott Brusaw has built aren't meant for rooftops. They are meant for roads, driveways, parking lots and, eventually, highways.

Brusaw is the head of Solar Roadways, a company that proposes using solar panels to pave the nation's roadways.

The electrical engineer from Sandpoint, Idaho, says the hexagon-shaped panels can withstand the wear and tear from vehicles and inclement weather while generating electricity.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

If you use solar panels or wind turbines to generate your own power, you can sell the electricity you don’t use back to your utility. But one Northwest power company wants to stop sending checks to customers who are big energy producers.

Idaho Power awards a credit against customers’ utility bills for the solar and wind power they put onto the grid. If they still have unused credits when the year ends, Idaho Power sends them a check.

But that could change. Idaho Power says it needs to stop sending the checks out to avoid increased oversight by federal regulators.