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Idaho Power wants to change how it pays for sending excess solar back to the grid

FILE - Nicholas Hartnett, owner of Pure Power Solar, carries a panel as he and Brian Hoeppner, right, install a solar array on the roof of a home in Frankfort, Ky., Monday, July 17, 2023. President Joe Biden has been careful not to declare an outright victory against inflation, but the White House says the cost savings from the Inflation Reduction Act are coming as the law is getting enacted. Tax credits will reduce the cost of installing rooftop solar panels by 30%, which will in turn lower monthly electricity bills. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
Michael Conroy
Nicholas Hartnett, owner of Pure Power Solar, carries a panel as he and Brian Hoeppner, right, install a solar array on the roof of a home in Frankfort, Ky. on Monday, July 17, 2023.

Idaho Power wants to change how customers are compensated for generating extra solar energy at their homes and sending it back to the grid – a process known as net metering.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is holding two workshops this week to go over Idaho Power’s proposal.

One significant change would be a shift in how Idaho Power accounts for the timing of energy production. It wants to consider whether energy is produced during “on-peak” or “off-peak” hours, said Brad Heusinkveld, an energy associate at the Idaho Conservation League.

Idaho Power defines on-peak hours from 3-11 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays between June 15 and September 15.

“Power sold back to Idaho Power will be most valuable in the afternoon when demand for electricity is the highest,” Heusinkveld said.

Idaho Power is introducing this time-based system to more accurately price the energy customers are generating and exporting to the grid, said Jordan Rodriguez, a corporate communications specialist at the utility. Throughout years of net-metering discussions, Idaho Power has argued the current net-metering rates benefit the customers who participate at the expense of those who don’t.

These proposed changes could make it less valuable to install solar panels at home.

Currently, customers are paid at the retail rate – between eight and 10 cents per kilowatt-hour – to sell electricity back to the grid, but the company suggested a weighted average of 5.96 cents per kilowatt-hour instead. These changes wouldn’t apply to those who installed solar panels before December 2019.

Heusinkveld said from ICL’s perspective, Idaho Power’s new export credit rates don’t account for many of the benefits associated with residential solar power.

“Idaho Power still operates fossil fuel plants, and every clean electric watt can displace a carbon-based watt,” he said.

Additionally, increased residential solar production can extend the need for maintaining and building new infrastructure, he said.

Idaho PUC workshops on Idaho Power’s solar compensation proposal

Sept. 6 from 6-9 p.m.

  • idahogov.webex.com
  • Meeting number: 2630 705 2269
  • Password: 0906Workshop

Sept. 7 from 12-3p.m.

  • Meeting number: 2631 951 3680
  • Password: 0907Workshop

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

I cover environmental issues, outdoor recreation and local news for Boise State Public Radio. Beyond reporting, I contribute to the station’s digital strategy efforts and enjoy thinking about how our work can best reach and serve our audience. The best part of my job is that I get to learn something new almost every day.

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