As we enter the sunny days of summer, Idaho will begin the long-awaited march toward a clean energy future. Idaho Solar 1, the first large-scale solar project in our state goes live by the end of April. This is terrific news for Idaho’s economy and climate. This week, a couple of us at ICL visited the site: here’s what we found out.

Solar power provides clean energy when we need it. Our energy demands spike when air conditioners and irrigation pumps turn on. To date, we have relied on burning fossil fuels. Mining them degrades landscapes and water; burning them cooks our planet. Since solar power peaks with the sun, more solar means less fossil fuel.  And with Idaho Solar 1 in Kuna, we avoid the big transmission lines needed to import fossil fuels from afar.

Local projects put Idahoans to work. Since we don’t have fossil fuels within our borders, relying on them ships dollars and jobs out of state. When my colleague  and I visited the new solar site, we saw at least a dozen workers on the job. Wages paid to our neighbors and tax payments for local communities will grow Idaho’s economy while protecting the air we breathe.

Idaho solar protects wildlife and wild places. You may have seen reports of solar in the Southwest displacing tortoises and other desert creatures. ICL believes that clean energy must not degrade wildlife habitat. Idaho’s solar projects are on old agricultural fields, so instead of alfalfa, we are growing clean energy to combat climate pollution. Wildlife wins when we protect their homes from unnecessary development and avoid polluting the air they breathe.

Idaho Solar 1 is just the first of several new solar projects being built this year. The other projects share these same key features-clean energy that matches our needs, local energy that employs Idahoans, and locations that do not harm wildlife. Cheers to Idaho’s clean energy summer!