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Hot summer days remind us that Idaho gets lots of sun. In our climate, the sun drives up energy demand for irrigation and air conditioning. Typically, our utilities burn fossil fuels to meet these demands while pumping carbon pollution into the air we breathe. Thus, the climate change feedback loop begins-hot temperatures, driven by carbon pollution, lead to more carbon pollution and higher temperatures. To break this cycle, we must move toward clean energy. Fortunately, the necessary change is coming.

ICL Goes Solar

ICL recently “flipped the script” and tapped into the sun to meet our needs. In mid-July, our newly installed rooftop solar array began delivering clean energy to our building, supplying about 45% of our electricity needs over the course of the year. Not only are we being careful stewards of our members’ donations by offsetting our power bill with clean energy, but we are also breaking the carbon pollution cycle. Stay tuned as we share how we conserve energy to stay within our clean energy budget.

Solar in Your Community

ICL promotes access to clean energy for all Idahoans. In May, I wrote about a new project called “community solar.” Idaho Power has proposed a pilot program in which customers can “subscribe” to a portion of a larger solar plant located on the Boise bench. If you’re an Idaho Power customer and subscribe to the project, you will receive a portion of the solar project’s output as a credit against your typical power bill.

ICL is excited about community solar because it provides a clean energy option for those who cannot afford or are unable to install their own solar arrays. And though we applaud Idaho Power for proposing this project, we see two issues that need to be addressed:

  • Instead of an upfront subscription payment as Idaho Power proposes, we propose a monthly fee that better fits within people’s budgets and therefore enables more people to participate.
  • Idaho Power is undervaluing the credit for this solar power, so we are diving into the numbers to calculate a fair value for the clean energy harnessed right here in Idaho.

Solar-Good for Business and Air Quality

Businesses are finding that rooftop solar is economical. Recently, I toured the Boise Co-op’s system. Grocery stores are huge energy users, and the Boise Co-op saw that generating a portion of its power right on its roof was good business. Boise State University installed a large system on the business school building, allowing the university to maximize tuition and provide education tools for students.

This week, ICL is touring systems installed by Bejo Seeds, Smith Berry Farm, and Kelly Orchard in Payette. These agricultural companies know a good deal when they see it-they see that going solar benefits both Idaho’s air quality and their bottom lines.

The Summer of  Solar

This truly is the summer of solar in Idaho. As we head into August, we will seek your help in moving Idaho toward a clean energy future by improving the community solar project and protecting the ability to put solar on your roof.