Residential (Schedule 1) and small commercial (Schedule 7) customers may connect up to 25 kilowatts (kW) of generation. All other rate classes may connect up to 100 kW of generation. For projects over 100 kW refer to Generator Interconnection. Residential Time Of Day customers (Schedule 5) may not participate.
No. Idaho Power employees do not sell solar installations or any energy services door to door. Idaho Power employees may visit your home to perform maintenance or turn a meter on or off; however, those visits are preceded by a phone call, door hanger or other communication; and Idaho Power employees will arrive in a company vehicle that is clearly marked with Idaho Power’s logo. If someone claims to work for the company, ask to see their employee badge.
No. Idaho Power does not hire, contract, endorse or partner with any specific solar companies. Although Idaho Power works with customers to connect solar installations to the grid, we are not involved with the sale or installation.
No. According to Idaho Power’s current Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), we will not need additional generation resources until at least 2026. While the company supports renewable energy and customer choice, we are not asking customers to install solar panels to help us avoid an energy crisis.
Solar panels only produce energy in natural daylight. They do not produce energy at night, and production may be limited on cloudy days. Panels also are incapable of storing energy. Solar panels can be paired with storage systems or batteries, but that is at an additional cost to the customer.
The monthly electric bill for homeowners who install solar or wind may be lower because of the energy they receive from their system. But solar and other renewable generation systems can be a large investment, costing thousands – often tens of thousands – of dollars. So, while your electric bill may be lower each month, you won’t see a true return on your investment for years down the road. For example, if a Boise residential customer uses an average 952 kilowatt hours (kWh) a month and installs a 6-kW solar system, it could take 14 to 18 years to recover his or her initial investment in solar.
Additionally, there are different payment options for solar, including paying cash upfront or financing plans that include interest. Typically, any time a large purchase requires making monthly payments, interest charges are included. Adding interest increases the total cost and length of time to recoup an investment.
Idaho has some of the lowest electricity prices in the nation, largely due to our clean, low-cost hydroelectric system. In states where electricity is expensive, an investment in solar on-site generation can have a quicker payback. In California, for example, solar install prices are only slightly higher than Idaho’s, but their electric utility prices are significantly higher. Therefore, residents of California who choose to install solar can start saving money in less than 10 years. Idaho Power customers enjoy lower electricity prices, which usually means a much longer period to recover an investment in solar.
Comparing identical energy use for San Jose and Boise
|San Jose, California||Boise, Idaho|
|Average monthly electric use:||500 kWh||500 kWh|
|Average monthly bill:||$125||$45|
|System size to offset nearly 100% of use:||3.75 kW||3.75 kW|
|System net cost after tax credit:||$12,400||$8,400|
|Simple Savings1 Calculation|
|Estimated payback/break-even:||8 years||17 years|
|Total 20 year payback:||$21,500||$1,500|
|NET PRESENT VALUE1 CALCULATION|
|Estimated payback:||10 years||Beyond 20 years|
|Total 20 year payback:||$10,700||-$1,700|
Sources: Project Sunroof and PVWatts Calculator
1Find descriptions of simple savings and net present value under the question Why does Project Sunroof provide two different 20-year values? at idahopower.com/solar.
Another factor is electricity price changes. Prices fluctuate slightly year to year due to inflation, fuel costs, and other factors. In 2018, Idaho Power customers experienced a decrease in electricity costs. Looking forward, Idaho Power’s most recent Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) report estimates that relative fuel prices will increase, on average, 1.2% per year over the next 18 years.
Having power when the grid is down generally requires battery backup. Inverters are the part of a typical solar system that convert DC power to usable AC power. The vast majority of inverters are grid-connected and work only if the electrical grid is functioning normally. If the grid experiences an outage, the inverters sense the abnormality and will stop interacting with the grid. This helps keep work crews safe and the grid stable.
A small number of customers connect to the grid and have a battery backup. This allows them to use energy stored in the batteries while the power is out. Battery backup systems will add significant cost to the overall system.
The following graph shows a full day’s meter readings for a sample home with an on-site solar generation system connected to Idaho Power’s electric grid. One example is from August when the days are long and solar panels are at their peak generation. The other example is from January, when solar panels typically produce less than half the energy than they do in July and August because of the shorter days in winter.
The red line indicates zero kilowatt-hours. The yellow shading shows the times that the home’s solar is generating more energy than the home is using. During this time, excess energy is delivered to the grid. The blue shading shows when the home needs more energy than solar can provide, and the home is drawing energy from the grid.
*For simplicity, the chart shows a pure yellow color. However, the home may still rely on the grid even when solar is at its midday peak. For example, when a cloud goes by or a large appliance needs a boost, the grid is there to meet the home’s energy needs.
A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is the unit Idaho Power uses to measure your electricity usage each month. Kilowatt-hour is the most commonly-used unit of measure showing the amount of electricity consumed over time.
For a wind turbine, the space depends on the type and height of the system installed. A general rule of thumb is the turbine generator should be 20 feet above the top of anything within 300 feet of the system. Turbines should be erected away from structures to minimize the risk of falling on buildings during strong winds. The minimum distance between turbines and structures is typically equal to the combined height of the tower and blades, known as the “fall distance.”
The size of the system depends on many factors including the type of technology, the available space and how much energy your home or business uses. Your monthly electric bill shows your usage for the past 12 months and can be accessed through My Account, Idaho Power’s online account portal at idahopower.com/MyAccount. For customers interested in solar, visit idahopower.com/solar for calculators to help estimate system size and costs.
PVWatts Calculator is an online tool developed by the federal government for estimating solar generation based on location, geographic weather patterns and system design. This tool is available at pvwatts.nrel.gov. According to PVWatts, one kilowatt of south-facing rooftop solar in southern Idaho will produce between 1,348 and 1,458 kWh per year. The average home in Idaho Power’s service area uses 11,400 kWh per year, so it would need a minimum of 8 kilowatts of solar to match nearly 100% of its electricity use for the year.
To use PVWatts to determine the size system you would need, simply input your city, solar size in kilowatts (kW) and the calculator will estimate solar electricity generation by month and 12-month total. Compare the PVWatts estimate to your 12-month historical energy use, which you can find on My Account at idahopower.com/MyAccount. Tweak the kW in the calculator to find the size needed for your electricity use. If you decide to move forward with purchasing an on-site renewable generation system, a professional installer can help estimate a system’s monthly and annual solar generation. Be sure to compare the installer’s estimated solar generation with the information provided by PVWatts Calculator.
Connecting Your System
Plan your system. Decide the system size and equipment. A professional installer can help with this step. Use our Solar Checklist to help you through the process.
Submit an Idaho Power Customer Generation Application and $100 fee. Applications are available at idahopower.com/customerGeneration or can be mailed upon request. Approved applications are valid for one year.
Wait for approval to proceed from Idaho Power. We will review the application and check the infrastructure (lines, transformers, etc.) serving the property. We will let you know within 7 business days if you can proceed or if upgrades are needed. Upgrades are an additional expense, so we recommend completing this step before proceeding with your purchase.
Build your system once you’ve received approval from Idaho Power and have secured any required building and electrical permits.
Pass a state/city electrical inspection.
Submit an Idaho Power System Verification Form certifying your system is complete and has passed all required inspections. Forms are available at idahopower.com/customerGeneration or can be mailed upon request.
Once the System Verification Form is received, Idaho Power will conduct an on-site inspection to confirm compliance with our rules and in most cases, change the meter. Once the meter is changed, you may turn on your system and begin generating power.
At times, the solar or renewable system will produce more energy than the home needs.
At other times the home/business will need to draw electricity from Idaho Power.
A Kilowatt is a unit of measure of the amount of electricity needed to operate given equipment. One kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts. Renewable generation systems like solar, are typically sized in watts or kilowatts.
Excess Energy Credit Transfers
Associated to accounts held by the same customer and be for the customer’s own use
Located on contiguous property, in the same state and on the same primary feeder
On compatible rate schedules. Transfers can occur between residential (Schedule 01, 06 and 84R) and small general service customers (Schedule 07, 08, and 84C) or between large commercial (09, 84L), industrial (schedules 19, 84L) and irrigation (Schedule Schedules 24 and A84)
- Excess energy credits must be available.
- Service agreements must be held by the customer and be for the customer’s use.
- Service agreements must be on the same contiguous property and be served by the same primary feeder as the customer generation (i.e. on-site generation or net metering) service agreements.
- Transfers can only occur between Residential and Small General Service accounts (Schedules 1, 6, 7 and 8) or between Large Commercial, Industrial, and Irrigation accounts (Schedules 9, 19 and 24).
- Receiving service agreements must be on the same primary feeder and contiguous property as the customer generation service agreement. Idaho Power will determine if service agreements meet these criteria once a transfer request is received.
- Customer must be the customer of record for both service agreements and use must be for the customer’s requirements.
- For customers taking service under Schedules 1, 6, 7 and 8, credits may only be transferred to service agreements taking service under Schedule 1, 6, 7 or 8. For customers taking service under Schedule 9, Schedule 19 or Schedule 24, credits may only be transferred to service agreements taking service under Schedule 9, Schedule 19 or Schedule 24.
- If multiple service agreements are eligible for aggregation, excess energy credits must first be applied to eligible service agreements on the same rate schedule as the on-site generation/net metering service agreement. Remaining excess energy credits may then be applied to offset consumption at eligible service agreements on differing rate schedules in accordance with the criteria detailed above. For example, if the transfer is occurring from a Schedule 6 (Residential) service agreement to two eligible service agreements, one Schedule 1 (Residential) and the other Schedule 7 (Small General Service), you must transfer some portion of your credit to the Schedule 1 service agreement to be eligible to transfer a portion to the Schedule 7 service agreement.