Solar power is a real deal right now and Idaho Power got state approval for two sales contracts with developers.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved the two contracts Friday for the two projects - one in Kuna and a second in Grand View - that would produce 120 megawatts, enough power to serve 83,000 average-sized homes. The projects are scheduled to be completed in 2016.
The approval comes as Idaho Power has asked the PUC to vote on another 11 solar projects with the potential to produce 281 megawatts at a 20-year cost of nearly $1 billion. This expansion of solar power comes from Idaho Power’s requirement under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act to provide an open market for power developers who can sell them power at the same cost they would pay to build their own natural gas plant.
Intermountain Energy Partners plan to build the Boise City Solar 40-megawatt project southeast of Kuna on Sand Creek Road by Jan. 16, 2016. It also signed contracts with Idaho Power to build six of the other 11 projects the PUC is considering.
The project would use mono-crystalline solar modules and is a dual-axis tracking system, which allows the tracker to follow the sun both vertically and horizontally. IEP will lease the land from the City of Boise, which not only would get lease payments but also half of the revenue from the sale of the green tags.
Robert Paul of Boise would develop the Grand View Solar Two project, which could produce 80 megawatts from its 340,480 polysilicon photovoltaic panels installed on a single-axis tracking system.
First Wind, headquartered in Boston, has the other five of 11 contracts the PUC is considering.
The sales agreements propose that Idaho Power pay the developers steadily increasing payments over the course of the agreement according to light-load and heavy-load hours of the day and seasons of the year.