What is Community Solar?
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.
Why is Idaho Power proposing a Community Solar Pilot?
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.
Who can participate?
Accounts in good standing anywhere within Idaho Power’s service area in Idaho are eligible to participate.
How was the cost of the program determined?
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.
How will the pilot be funded?
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.
How many subscriptions are available?
The program began with 1,563 subscriptions available. Once those subscriptions have been sold, no more will be available.
Idaho Power’s goal is to fully subscribe the program by the end of 2017. Assuming we receive enough interest, the company would begin construction on the array in spring 2018.
What is the participant cost?
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.
How do I pay for my subscription?
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.
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.
How much will the array generate?
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 952 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, or about 55 kWh per month. The output from any participant’s total subscription level may not exceed 100 percent of the participant’s annual energy use. Customers can purchase as many subscriptions as they choose up to the annual energy use limitation.
How will I know how much energy the array has generated?
Once built, the array will include data monitoring and generation information will be posted to Idaho Power’s website.
What will my bill credit be?
Monthly bill credits will be based on the energy production costs being offset by the solar array. At current rates, residential participants will receive about 3 cents per kilowatt-hour generated by their portion of the array, and about a 0.6 cent benefit through the Power Cost Adjustment (PCA). Based on current energy production 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. Non-residential participants would receive between 2 and 3 cents per kilowatt-hour and about a 0.6 cent benefit through the PCA. The credit will change over the 25-year project term to reflect current energy production costs and changes to the company’s annual PCA.
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 residential 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 3.0246 cents per kWh, or $1.60. The solar credit is calculated like this (83,000/1,563) x $0.030246. Plus, community solar energy is not subject to the Power Cost Adjustment (PCA), so the energy produced by the array receives a passive credit of around 0.6 cents per kWh, or about $0.32. The PCA calculation would look like this (83,000/1,563) x $0.006. For the current year in this example, one subscription would receive a solar credit of $1.60, plus the PCA passive savings of $0.32, for a total savings of $1.92 for the month.
How long will the pilot last?
Participants will be entitled to receive a bill credit for 25 years from the operational online date of the array.
Will I get a refund if I cancel?
Idaho Power will advise participants in writing and online at idahopower.com/solar when enough subscriptions have sold to move forward with construction of the solar array. Up until this announcement, participants choosing to opt out of the program may cancel and receive a refund of their subscription fees. After Idaho Power makes the announcement that construction will move forward, subscriptions are no longer refundable. If Idaho Power does not build the community solar array, participants will be refunded as described in the Terms and Conditions. Participants may also transfer subscriptions to other eligible customers. (See below.)
What if I move during the program term?
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.
Are there any tax benefits for participating?
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.
Tell me more about the array.
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.
How can I give a community solar subscription to someone else?
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.
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.