Study Seeks Fair Price for Solar
Would you pay $10 — or even $5 — for something that may only be worth $2?
Most of us would say no. We are willing to pay our share, but we expect prices to be fair.
This is the question at the heart of an Idaho Power study submitted to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) involving customers who generate their own power — usually with solar panels. Idaho Power is concerned that the current pricing policy, called net metering, leads to overcompensating customers who send solar energy back to the grid, which leads to higher costs for all customers.
Every customer should have access to reliable, affordable, clean energy – and the ability to generate their own electricity if they want to. Idaho Power’s goal with this study is to find a fair value for the excess energy customers with rooftop solar send back to the grid so we can continue providing reliable, affordable, clean energy to all customers at prices 20–30% below the national average.
What did the study find?
The IPUC asked Idaho Power to quantify the financial benefits and costs of the current net metering policy. The policy hasn’t been updated in nearly two decades, a time period that saw the cost of solar decrease substantially. The results of the study show net metering customers are currently being overpaid for their excess energy, which creates a subsidy being paid for by the rest of our customers.
What is the value of solar energy?
There is no doubt that solar power is and will continue to be a valuable part of Idaho Power’s energy mix. In fact, as part of our goal to provide 100% clean energy by 2045, we are buying energy from a new 120-megawatt solar plant near Twin Falls called Jackpot Solar. Our initial cost is less than 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for this energy, making the price right for our customers.
How much do we pay residential customers for their extra solar power? Today, it’s around 10 cents per kWh — that’s almost five times more than we’re paying for solar energy produced by Jackpot Solar.
Why does it matter?
When there are cost shifts, who pays the difference? Ultimately, our other customers do. That might mean you. So, we’re working to update our policies so the 2% of our customers who have solar panels aren’t being subsidized by the 98% who don’t. Solar for some shouldn’t compromise affordability for all.
In December 2022, the IPUC issued an order acknowledging the study and directing Idaho Power to file a new case requesting to implement changes to the current on-site customer generation offering. Idaho Power is working on that case, which we anticipate filing in the first half of 2023.
Note: As part of previous rulings, the IPUC granted legacy (grandfathered) status to eligible Schedule 6 and 8 (residential and small general service) on-site generation systems as of December 20, 2019. Eligible Schedule 84 (commercial, industrial and irrigation) systems received legacy status as of December 1, 2020. Customers who do not have legacy systems are subject to changes to the on-site generation compensation structure, including the value of excess energy. Customers are notified when applying for interconnection that the value of excess energy is subject to change. While not at issue in this case, all on-site generation customers, regardless of legacy status, are subject to changes in rates (energy prices), billing components, and billing structure.
The full study report Idaho Power filed with the IPUC is included below, along with appendices of supporting data. These same documents are also on file with the IPUC.
On August 31, 2022, Idaho Power hosted a public workshop explaining the methodologies used in the VODER Study and answering questions from the public. The workshop materials and a recording of the presentation are provided below.
Understanding Customer Generation
Tips for Choosing an Installer
Beware of Misinformation
Learn More about Clean Energy Options
For assistance with a PDF on this page or to request a PDF in an alternate format, please contact Customer Service at 208-388-2323 or 1-800-488-6151