You may remember that, in June, the  Idaho Conservation League asked you to weigh in on a Public Utilities Commission case about the future of solar power in Idaho. Today, the Idaho PUC released its decision and closed the door to independent businesses that want to develop large renewable energy projects in our state. We are disappointed by this decision to limit investment in Idaho’s home-grown clean energy resources.

Around the country, utilities, individuals and businesses are investing in clean energy-like solar and wind-to reduce reliance on the dirty energy resources of coal and gas. Two things are driving this transition: low-cost renewables and desire for clean air. Today’s decision makes this clean energy transition much harder for Idaho.

Investing in clean energy requires a stable, long-term energy policy that defines the ability of developers to sell clean power to the only legal buyer, the utility. In today’s decision, the PUC shut the door on this opportunity by limiting the contract length between utilities and independent developers to just two years. No one can develop a multimillion dollar project on just a two-year promise. That’s why utilities insist on 20 years or more when they build power plants.

The PUC order speculates that clean energy development will continue because the utilities will build projects. Let’s hope that’s true because, instead of creating a level playing field, the PUC tipped the balance completely to the utility.

At ICL, we hope the utilities heed the call of the public, which was clearly stated in this case-continue the transition away from out-of-state oil and gas toward Idaho’s clean energy future.