City of Boise intervenes in solar power metering case

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.

When the whole world is

trying to make "green" energy available & affordable, I am disgusted with Idaho Power's line in the sand over this. Apparently they don't have anyone in their company with enough brains who can see & understand the need for the use of solar/wind power. Europe has them all over and they welcome the use & contributions wind/solar power which helps use less fossil fuels. Too bad IP is going in the other direction, at OUR expense.

Tired of paying for your green carbon cult.

Put up your solar panels and wind turbines. I'm all for it unless you forget to pay for it yourself and provide your own power storage when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow. Don't expect the rest of us to subsidize your green fads. Europe has unreliable solar power and wind power all over trying to replace reliable power sources and they are finding out that it's a very stupid, very expensive idea.

Wind works great, if you keep blowing hard.

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People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

Subsidize?

So apparently you believe you're:
- Subsidizing my natural gas bill if I add insulation in my attic?
- Subsidizing my food if I eat less than you?
- Subsidizing my dental care if I brush my teeth?
- Subsidizing my power if I have solar panels?

You're not subsidizing anyone.

Why should the rest

of us pay for those that choose to use solar panels? It is not the utility costs that make them so expensive - it is the technology costs.

Because they tend to put power back into the grid...

and when the meter runs backwards that is EXACTLY what is happening.

Get Offa MY Cloud.

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People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

Idaho Power is not your friend

Idaho Power has no incentive to let their captive audience (us) install and use something that ultimately (they feel) will cost them revenue. In much the same way that private health insurance companies are not really in the business of making us healthier and are instead in the business of maximizing profits to shareholders, Idaho Power, a private investor-owned company, is not really in the business of providing cheap, easily obtainable power. Instead they are in the business of providing profits to their investors. Solar (and wind) power generation by customers or other businesses challenges their business model because they know they ultimately won't be able to compete on cost or lack of environmental impact(with the exception of dams, but don't forget the impact on fisheries)if (when) these technologies continue to mature and become cheap and readily available.

The Idaho Public Utility Commission needs to stop this blatant and anti-american attempt to limit competition and allow IP to maintain the status quo. Go to the IPUC website and write a comment about case # IPC-E-12-27 asking this (unfortunately all to apt to rubber-stamp any proposal from Idaho Power) regulatory body to support private citizen solar and allow competition in the energy market.

www.puc.idaho.gov/forms/ipuc1/ipuc.html

DO IT!!! At least you'll feel like you did a little something to rage against the machine :-)

buy now

Looks like a good time to buy more IdaCorp stock. :-)

Solar and wind are too unreliable to power your house.

Look at the details instead of just being a gullible green believer. Solar can only be available an average of 12 hours a day if the skies are never cloudy. In reality, where the rest of us live, solar is available even less than 50% of the time. Wind isn't any better and is subject to the extreme weather we always get. Stop trying to push the technology. You can't wish it into reliable usefulness.

If you really, really, believe, put up your solar panels and wind mills, set up your battery back-up system and CUT THE CORD. Get off the grid. I predict your faith in being green will last till the first long winter inversion when you'll be shivering in the dark.

You have no clue...nobody is cutting the umbilical.

You are just whining. Get a clue, don't buy avowal.

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People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

Hoax!

This is not an uncommon ploy for utilities..they kill a budding industry only to come in a year or two later and offer a utility scale solar rooftop program where they essentially lease customers roof space in order to take advantage of federal and state credits that the customers are not entitled to due to this leasing model. The financial play for utilities is they are entitled to the 30% federal rebate based on the "fair market value" of a system on a national average. In this instance IP is actually talking with panel manufactures (fact) about producing mass amounts of panels at cheap rates to install for pennies on the dollar of the "fair market value" thus often times getting all their money back and much more just through the rebate process all while charging the customer a set rate for this power. Very slick and smart on IP behalf as at the upper management of all utilities understand the immense value that solar can provide due to the peak production times mirroring peak demand, depsite what they lead the consumer market to believe with their monthly retoric in your power bill. Citizens need to stand up for their right to choose to have solar as it really is now affordable offering paybacks ranging from 6-10 years with systems capable of producing for 30+ years at a garunteed rate of return which gets better every time IP raises power rates. This is what IP fears and why they are trying to stop this movement as homeowners essentially can create for themselves a levelized power rate around .06/kwh. Why not?
Another point of this is the jobs that are growing immensely due to this industry here in the valley. Jobs that are paying well and emloyees who are spending money in the local economy, thus helping maintain other local business.

Another point here that needs to be stressed is that we as IP customers pay a monthly energy efficiency charge that goes to an incentive pool to help business' upgrade to energy effient lighting, motors, systems, etc. These business' that we as local consumers already help support and maintain. Why would the same incentive program not work for Solar? IP needs the peak power from solar and despite what they claim solar reduces stress on the lines at they are having to distribute less power to areas with solar installs. If you look at the shear numbers here the 350+ net metering customers would be charged an additional $72,000 in costs under their proposal to the PUC. If the other 499,650 IP customers were to help subsidize this cost who opt not to do solar (which they should)it would cost them less than 1/10 of cent each month. This amount would never go noticed and is immensely less than what we pay for business every month to install upgrades???? Many states have this same type of incentive program for solar customers because utilities recognize the value that it can provide especially in peak power times.

Be sure to write the IPUC and get involved with local organizations (Idaho Conservation League, Idaho Clean Energy Association)that are fighting for our rights to simply have a choice to do what is right for the enviroment and our local economy. Good for the City of Boise!

Pretextual baloney

Idaho Power's claim that they are "just trying to protect other customers" is a huge pile of baloney. We're talking about a tiny number of solar customers getting hit with the entire $72k charge - if spread across all customers, at most this "cost" would be 10 cents a year. This is about eliminating competition and crushing solar installers, pure and simple. Given our enormous pollution issues, and the fact that there are entire months that we can't go outdoors because of the air quality, we should be begging people to move to clean energy, not penalizing those who do.

Working Toward a Solution

Idaho Power has more than 500,000 customers. It is the right thing to consider the interests of all of them, not just the 353 participating in our net metering service.

We are not surprised the city intervened in the net metering case; they are a net metering customer and therefore have an interest in the proceeding and outcome. We encourage public involvement in our cases before the IPUC, as it’s the best way to find a solution that works for all of our customers.

For more information, visit http://www.idahopower.com/AboutUs/OurView/

Bill Shawver
Director of Corporate Communications, Idaho Power

Micro solar generation subsidizes everyone!

I totally get how you can't have a business of selling power when you are required to pay the solar power producers the same price as what you are selling power for, the way most net metering works. I also recognize that people that sell their solar over-production to Idaho Power during the day, using the power grid as a huge battery to draw from for electricity to use when the sun isn't out, are getting a free ride.

There is something else going on here, though, the usual Idaho Power shenanigans, enabled by PUC policy that guarantees a GREAT rate of return on any capital spent to build more generating capacity: micro-solar power injected into the grid during peak demand periods reduces, if not eliminates, the need for additional generating capacity. Because of the guaranteed return on their investment in a new facility, alone, Idaho Power would want to build another carbon-based (or nuclear) generating facility. Building new generating facilities is one of the really clear routes to profits for a privately held utility. It is we, the rate-payers, that get stuck with the increased bill to pay for that increase in Idaho Power's rate base. To the extent that solar kwhrs help avoid costly new generation facilities, the solar net-metering customers are actually subsidizing everyone else!

It is absolutely for the benefit of all Idaho Power customers that the PUC should encourage micro-solar production and injection of those surplus daytime Kwhrs into the grid.

Solar fantasy

idahomay,

For every kw a solar or wind installation generates during their cloudless or windy peak operating days, the utility has to have a kw of standby power ready to instantly replace their unreliable, politically motivated burden on the grid. Wind and solar are stupid ideas promoted by the semi-literate carbon cult and forced on the rest of us by technologically illiterate politicians.

Blow up and dry away, ya hawg.

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People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

Semi-literate carbon cult?

This is how you identify the world's scientific community?

The Semi Literate

Carbon Cult description fits you to a T Rocky. What makes you think you are a "spokesman" for the worlds scientific community Rocky? Your rewritten press releases that you try to palm of as "news". Maybe a short resume of your scientific credentials and refereed journal publications would be in order.

To Bill Shawver

Bill,

It's just wrong for Idaho Power to demonize these 350 ratepayers. You know it's a fact that net metering customers reduce IPCo's need to build more coal power stations to handle peak summer capacity, and to buy power on the spot market. That reduces costs for all IPCo customers.

If your real concern is that fixed fees for hooking up to the grid are too low, then change them for all 500,000. There is no credible rationale for applying it only to net metering customers. Fixed costs don't suddenly become variable just because someone has solar.

My bill already has a service charge of $5/month. Idaho Power paid for Larkin's testimony proposing that net metering customers pay 4X that. Why? Your own billing glossary explains that the $5 already covers those expenses. This is from your own website:

Service Charge
The service charge is a flat fee that helps recover costs involved with maintaining meters, lines and billing.

I'm guessing the real problem is that Solar is very getting cheap, and it's happening fast. That's a threat to your profits....

Semi Literate means you can read the side of a truck at speed.

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People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.