The program was designed to be funded primarily by participants through the purchase of subscriptions to the solar array. The Community Solar Pilot Program did not have enough participants to move forward. The current program is suspended while we explore alternative options for a viable community solar program, potentially in other locations.
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 who purchased one or more subscriptions in a solar PV array would receive a bill credit for their portion of the output.
Idaho Power plans for new generation resources through its Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process. The 2017 IRP shows there is no need for additional resources until year 2026. To keep rates lower, Idaho Power does not plan to build any new resources until there is a need.
However, some customers want new solar generation sources before then. This project originated out of customer interest in having a solar option provided by Idaho Power. The pilot program was intended to gauge customer demand and commitment for a community form of solar project.
In early 2016, through a competitive bid process, Idaho Power identified the price to build a 500-kW solar array. Federal tax incentives and a 15¬ percent contribution from IDACORP shareholders significantly lowered the cost to participants. 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 was designed to 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 could have been be recovered through rates if that equipment or service provided a benefit to all Idaho Power customers.
While this specific project will not move forward, Idaho Power remains committed to exploring clean energy options, including an ongoing effort to launch a community solar program in other locations.
Through Idaho Power’s Green Power Program, customers can use clean energy sourced from wind and solar facilities located in the northwest. Participation also provides funding for Solar 4R Schools, a program that awards local K–12 schools with solar installations and sustainable energy education. More information can be found at idahopower.com/greenpower.