Idaho Power is granted monopoly status to serve the public. But Idaho Power’s PUC filing to create separate rate classes for residential and small-generation net-metering customers (94 percent solar PV rooftop owners) doesn’t serve the greater good. Idaho Power asked to create a separate rate class for 0.25 percent of customers, mentioning benefits and costs, but included only costs. It needs to include values distributed solar provides. Otherwise, a PUC ruling could drive higher electric power rates for all.
Studies in 23 states found 15-plus ways distributed solar adds value. A 2017 LBNL study and Brookings Institute found distributed solar may lower retail electric rates. Values include lower energy costs, lower transmission costs, reduced fuel risk, greater energy security and independence. Solar PV costs are 1/100th of the 1970s cost and dropping. Vermont’s Green Mountain Power profits using customer solar and batteries to reduce peak power costs that drive utility investment. Idaho Power could develop its smart grid to both prevent outages and manage distributed resources.
Let’s be clear: The issue is not this tiny fraction of small customers – it’s Idaho Power’s business model. It can use this time to develop a 21st century energy grid benefiting customers, investors, and our collective health. We’ll all breathe easier.
Lisa Hecht, Boise