On November 3, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) held the last of three public hearings across the state on Idaho Power’s recently released study on the value of excess rooftop solar power, which indicated the monopoly may cut compensation rates to local solar owners by over 60%. Over 750 public comments were submitted ahead of the November 4 deadline, the overwhelmingly majority of which oppose Idaho Power’s solar study.
Prior to the public hearing, a group of student climate activists and conservation groups held a press conference at the IPUC office calling on Idaho Power to support energy democracy.
“Idaho Power claims to care about clean energy and the environment. So why are they making it more expensive and inaccessible? The profit they are chasing now isn’t worth its effect on the planet and therefore us. As members of the PUC, it is your job to keep electricity affordable and regulate the monopolies in our state. When you make your decision, please think about the people and planet, not the company,” said Kylie Jackson, Climate Justice League youth activist.
During the public hearing, solar advocates called on the IPUC to reject or heavily review Idaho Power’s solar study, which was criticized for having faulty methodology and outdated data. By the end of the hearing, the IPUC heard from over 50 members of the community, from rooftop solar owners, solar company owners and employees, farmers, doctors, youth activists and concerned citizens.
“We’re here to ask the PUC to do the simple thing — to protect Idahoans’ right to make their own energy and to restrict the utility’s ability to single-handedly control how Idahoan’s solar energy is valued,” said Rachael Miller, General Manager at Revolusun.
Some testifiers paired their personal stories with data from the independent study published by Crossborder Energy, which shows Idaho Power undervalued customer-owned rooftop solar and neglected to include benefits such as the long-term hedge against volatile natural gas prices and avoiding the rate impacts of carbon emissions, resulting in artificially lower values that will ultimately discourage locally owned solar.
“By excluding key benefits, the total export credit rate according to Idaho Power is 2.3-4 cents per kilowatt. However, a study conducted by Crossborder Energy yields 18.3 cents per kilowatt — a significant increase,” said Sherlyn Messilas Becerra, a Climate Justice League youth activist. “What this tells the community of Idaho is that Idaho Power prioritizes its profit over people.”
During the press conference before the hearing, high school student activists with the Idaho Climate Justice League and other community organizations and businesses addressed the public and highlighted the importance of clean energy and solar power in the race to minimize the impacts of climate change.
“[Idaho Power’s] study fails to account for the environmental benefits that solar provides, and uses biased data that supports Idaho Power’s financial interests,” said Molly O’Sullivan, student activist with the Climate Justice League. “To make so called ‘clean energy’ commitments and then promote anything but is a violation of the faith of the community that depends on this power. We have to call them out and demand better for our communities.”
IPUC Staff first suggested holding no public hearings on this case. However, after receiving over 350 comments urging public hearings in multiple parts of the state, the IPUC ended up holding hearings in Boise (Nov. 3, 3 hours), Pocatello (Oct. 27, 2 hours), and Twin Falls (Nov. 2, 1 hours). The IPUC’s final decision on whether to accept or reject Idaho Power’s study results is expected by the end of the year, after which Idaho Power will propose a new compensation rate structure for solar owners, which will open yet another case at the IPUC early next year. View the full study and follow the case on the IPUC’s website here.
News item from the Sierra Club
Making egregious claims by the rote IOU electric Utility is directly from the “playbook” of California’s rote IOU electric Utilities and the proposals for the “so called” NEM 3.0. jWhyat Idaho wants is what Berkshire Hathaway Energy claimed when shares of Xcel were purchased in Colorado a few years ago. The pundit is exces energy supplied to the grid each day is to be credited at the (wholesale) electricity cost, usually around 4 to 6 cents per kWh. Then after hours when the sun goes down the credit is applied to retail electricity rates that are 3 to 5 times more as the wholesale electricity rate.
““By excluding key benefits, the total export credit rate according to Idaho Power is 2.3-4 cents per kilowatt. However, a study conducted by Crossborder Energy yields 18.3 cents per kilowatt — a significant increase,” said Sherlyn Messilas Becerra, a Climate Justice League youth activist. “What this tells the community of Idaho is that Idaho Power prioritizes its profit over people.””
These electric utilities ignore the “avoided costs” the utility doesn’t have to pay like cost of system components, installation, permitting, and right of ways, buying property to put the system on and financing with principle and interest, insurance, maintenance and repair of the system. All these things are left on the backs of the solar PV adopters without fair and impartial consideration of avoided costs and having a local distributed energy generation system online during peak use times of the day. More distributed energy generation less transformer step losses, more efficient source of local energy, less need to run remote generation facilities to meet grid load demands.