Community Solar Pilot Program FAQs
Click a question below to find answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
- What is Community Solar?
- Why is Idaho Power proposing a Community Solar Pilot?
- Who can participate?
- How will the pilot be funded?
- How was the cost of the program determined?
- How many subscriptions will be available?
- What is the participant cost?
- How do I pay for my subscription?
- How much will the array generate?
- How will I know how much energy the array has generated?
- What will my bill credit be?
- How long will the pilot last?
- Will I get a refund if I cancel?
- What if I move during the program term?
- Are there any tax benefits with participating?
- Tell me more about the array.
- How can I give a community solar subscription to someone else?
Community solar allows customers to support a solar array in their community. There are many different ways to design a Community Solar program. Under Idaho Power’s pilot, participants may purchase one or more subscriptions in a solar PV array and receive a bill credit for their portion of the output.
Idaho Power plans for new generation resources through its Integrated Resource Planning process. Currently, the IRP shows there is no need for additional resources to meet our customers' needs until year 2026. To keep rates lower, Idaho Power does not plan to build any new resources until that time. However, some customers want new solar generation sources before then. This project meets that need allowing the customers that want the choice to go solar, to support it.
This pilot program is intended to evaluate customer demand and commitment for a community form of solar project. It originated out of customer interest in having a solar option provided by Idaho Power.
Accounts in good standing anywhere within Idaho Power’s service area in Idaho are eligible to participate. Current Idaho Power employees and net metering customers will not be eligible until Dec. 30, 2016.
In early 2016, through a competitive bid process, Idaho Power identified the price to build a 500 kW solar array. IDACORP shareholders contributed 15 percent of the total, to reduce the cost to participants. Federal tax incentives and Idaho Public Utility Commission Agreements benefiting Idaho Power were incorporated to further reduce the price to participate. The construction and interconnection costs, long-term maintenance and operation costs and program marketing costs were added together and divided among the 1,563 subscriptions to arrive at $562 per subscription.
The pilot will be paid for primarily by participants, through the purchase of subscriptions, and company shareholders. It is not designed to be paid for by non-participating customers. However, some costs for certain equipment and services may be recovered through rates if that equipment or service provides a benefit to all Idaho Power customers.
There will be 1,563 subscriptions available. Of these, initially 470 subscriptions will be available for commercial customers and 1,093 subscriptions for residential customers. Idaho Power employees and net metering customers will not be able to purchase subscriptions during the first 60 days of enrollment, as one of Idaho Power’s objectives is to assess program interest from other customers.
However, Idaho Power’s goal is to fully subscribe the program. If the program is not fully subscribed after the initial 60-day enrollment period, Idaho Power will open all subscriptions to first-come, first-serve and open the pilot to net metering customers and employees.
Participants may purchase one or more subscriptions for $562 per subscription. Participants can pay the subscription fee in an up-front payment of $562 or make 24 payments of $26.31 per month. The 24-month option includes carrying and administrative charges.
Participants may pay in three ways.
Check: You may submit your application with a check payable to Idaho Power and send by mail to Idaho Power, Community Solar, P.O. Box 70, Boise, ID 83707.
Bill Me: Customers choosing this option will receive a bill for the full payment amount. The bill can be paid by check, Credit or Debit card with a $2.85 fee. See Ways To Pay My Bill for more information.
24-Months: Customers choosing this option will receive a bill each month for $26.31 that can be paid by check, Credit or Debit card with a $2.85 fee. See Ways To Pay My Bill for more information.
Output is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). One kWh is equivalent to powering a 100-watt light bulb for 10 hours. The average home in our service area uses about 1,000 kWh per month.
Output from the array depends on many factors, including sunlight, temperature and air quality. We predict the average annual energy output, accounting for line losses, is almost 1 million kWh per year. Actual output will vary from year to year. Output will be higher in the summer and lower in the winter.
The forecast annual energy per subscription is approximately 638 kWh. The output from any participant’s total subscription level may not exceed 100 percent of the participant’s annual energy use. Residential customers can purchase as many subscriptions as they choose up to the annual energy use limitation, while non-residential customers will be limited to a maximum of 50 subscriptions during the initial 60-day enrollment period.
Once built, the array will include data monitoring and generation information will be posted to Idaho Power’s website.
Monthly bill credits will be based on the costs being offset by the solar array, currently about 3.5 cents per kWh for residential customers and between 2-3 cents for non-residential customers. Based on current projections, the average monthly bill credit for residential customers will be around a couple of dollars per month (higher in the summer, lower in the winter), or $23 per year. This credit will be revisited when electric rates change and updated to reflect current energy costs.
Want more detail? The credit amount will be multiplied by the participant’s share of the monthly output. The participant’s monthly output is calculated by dividing the loss-adjusted output of the entire array by the total number of subscriptions (1,563) and multiplied by the total number of subscriptions owned by that customer. For example, if a customer purchases one subscription, and the total output from the entire solar array in a particular month is 83,000 kWh, that customer will get credit for 53 kWh. If the array was online right now, that credit would be 3.56 cents per kWh, or $1.89. (83,000/1,563 x 1 x $0.0356).
Participants will be entitled to receive a bill credit for 25 years from the operational online date of the array.
No, payments will be used to build the array. They are not refundable should you decide to terminate your participation. You may transfer your subscription to another eligible customer. (See below.)
Participants will be able to transfer subscriptions to their new account in Idaho Power’s Idaho service area at no charge. Participants will be able to transfer subscriptions to someone else’s account (including a non-profit) in Idaho Power’s Idaho service area for a $25 transfer fee. If the participant closes their account and does not transfer their subscriptions by notifying Idaho Power within 60 days, the subscriptions will revert to Idaho Power.
Idaho Power recommends consulting with a tax professional on this issue. The federal and state tax incentives associated with installing the solar array will be claimed by Idaho Power and are reflected in the subscription fee. In addition, a subscription is not a charitable contribution. Please consult with your tax advisor.
The proposed array is a 500-kilowatt, single-axis tracking system. The proposed location is on Idaho Power property at the Boise Bench substation on Amity Road.
Giving the gift of solar energy is a bright idea! Idaho Power is making it possible for people to give subscriptions to the Community Solar Pilot Program as gifts. Your gift supports renewable, sustainable energy.
To give a subscription for the Community Solar Pilot, sign up to request a gift packet.
Gift packets include instructions, a gift card and envelope, program flyer, Participant Agreement/Terms and Conditions, and a return envelope. All program Terms and Conditions apply.
Call 208-388-2790 during business hours, or email us at email@example.com with questions.