Idaho Power says its customers may soon be able to participate in a community solar pilot program if the utility’s proposal is approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC).
Under the proposal, Idaho Power would build a 500 kW solar array on property it owns near its Boise Bench substation on Amity Road. Interested customers could purchase subscriptions entitling them to a portion of the electrical output from the project. They would receive a monthly bill credit based on the amount of solar generation.
“This pilot program is intended to evaluate customer commitment for a community solar project. It originated from customer interest in having a solar option provided by Idaho Power,” explains Pete Pengilly, customer research and analysis leader for Idaho Power.
The pilot will be paid for primarily by participants who purchase subscriptions, as well as company shareholders. It is not designed to be paid for by non-participating customers, notes Idaho Power.
“Participation in the community solar pilot program is voluntary, and it gives participants the opportunity to use solar energy generated right here in Boise,” adds Pengilly.
Under Idaho Power’s proposal submitted to the IPUC, participants may purchase one or more subscriptions for $740 each. In return, they will receive credit for their portion of the solar array’s output on their monthly bill. Monthly bill credits will be based on the energy costs being offset by the solar array, currently about 3.02 cents/kWh for residential customers and between 2.0 cents/kWh and 3.0 cents/kWh for nonresidential customers. The utility says this credit will be revisited when electric rates change and updated to reflect current costs.
If the proposal is approved, Idaho Power hopes to begin enrollment in late summer or early fall and have the project up and running by summer 2017 if there is sufficient customer enrollment in the pilot project.