Several people asked me as I did the story in today’s Idaho Statesman about Idaho Power’s net metering proposal, whether it would affect the solar schools program.
There are actually at least two solar schools programs and in both cases, the answer is no.
Idaho Power has its own Solar 4R Schools program. All the schools in the program are either on large commercial net metering rates or considered demonstration projects, which are under an industrial rate.
“Our net metering proposal addresses only residential and small commercial customers,” said Stephanie McCurdy, an Idaho Power spokeswoman.
The other Solar for Schools program was the brainchildren of Paul Kjellander, when he was Gov. Butch Otter’s Office of Energy Resources director. He steered $2.7 million in federal stimulus dollars to nine schools across the state as a demonstration project.
His brainstorm was that since solar power production peaked in the summer, when school was out, the credits earned could offset electric costs during the school year. This would help offset education costs.
The largest, is at Boise's Whitney Elementary, at peak capacity can produce 100 kilowatts of electricity. None of these solar generation plants produce enough energy to offset the school’s electricity consumption for a month or a year, McCurdy said.
Kjellander is now on the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, which will decide on Idaho Power's net metering proposal.