The City of Boise has asked to intervene in Idaho Power’s case before the Idaho Public Utilities Commission that would increase the costs for residents with solar panels on their homes.
Idaho Power filed a request with the PUC to expand its net metering program and said it wants to stop writing checks to solar customers. The investor-owned utility also wants to increase the rate solar users pay for the power they get from Idaho Power and quadruple the fees they pay to hook up to the grid.
Idaho Power officials say the added charges are needed to ensure that its other customers aren’t subsidizing the solar-generating customers. The story is garnering national attention.
Fox News sent a crew to Boise Tuesday to interview Steve and Courtney White, two of the customers fighting the proposal, along with Idaho Power officials.
City attorney Stephen Rutherford said Boise filed Tuesday for intervention because it has a “direct and substantial interest” — its own solar-panel installations on the city’s Foothills Learning Center, which is net-metered.
“The city is also concerned about the negative effects the proposed change will have in encouraging more citizens to install and use solar panels, thereby reducing pollution and reducing the City’s progress in achieving its sustainability goals,” Rutherford wrote.
“The changes proposed in this matter could have a swift, deleterious effect on the solar installation industry, and render feckless home and business improvements made by city residents,” Rutherford wrote.
The Idaho Conservation League has already intervened.
Idaho Power said the increased costs and the taking of credits left over at the end of the year is an issue of fairness for other customers because the solar customers are not paying the full costs of the utility’s fixed costs, like power lines. You can read more about this in my December story on Idaho Power’s net metering proposal.
Or if you want to can read a bigger-picture story on solar in the U.S. see Bloomberg Businessweek’s excellent story here.