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Idaho Power proposes costly changes to renewable energy

By Kaitlin Loukides
Published On: Jan 30 2013 12:17:40 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 02 2013 09:23:31 PM CST

Idaho Power proposes changes that might cause solar power owners to pay more on their energy bills.

POCATELLO -

Solar energy panel owners in eastern Idaho received a letter in the mail this past month stating they could possibly start to see some changes to their energy bills come October.

Idaho Power announced its plan to put a halt on paying solar panel owners who generate more power than they use each month. Instead it wants to bundle the energy overages into a voucher people can put toward their energy bills during months they find themselves paying more for energy usage. However, any of these unused vouchers will expire at the end of each year.

Second, Idaho Power plans to hike-up the fees it charges customers for hooking-up the power grid while also increasing the standard, base rate panel users pay for the power they purchase from the company.

The company said this is fair for all of their customers.

“We just want all of our customers to be treated fairly from a rate standpoint when it comes to our fixed costs of serving them,” Idaho Power Regional Manager David Joerger said.

Kenny Pfannenstiel is solar power user himself and a spokesman for Big Dog Renewable Energy. He said these cost increases will have him paying more each month and will have the same effect on their customers.

“The standard cost for customers today is under five bucks,” Pfannenstiel said. “But for customers that have net metering it will go up to over 15 dollars.”

Net metering is the transfer of renewable, often unused energy flowing to and from the power company.

Pfannenstiel said he has already spoken to a large number of Big Dog's customers along with the Public Utilities Commission. They are already signing a petition to try and stop the PUC from allowing these changes from taking place.

Joerger said their hands are tied on this issue, and these proposed changes are the best options to keep renewable energy technologies fully supported. He also said the reason why they needed to make these changes is due to the fact that the PUC put a cap on the amount of unused energy to flow back to the company, and these changes are efforts to double that energy overage ceiling.

“The fact that we are asking the PUC to double the amount of this type of generation that we can connect to our system I think shows that we are supportive of these sorts of technologies,” Joerger said.

When asked what would happen if the PUC does not allow these changes to take place, Joerger was positive some sort of change will happen no matter what.

Follow Kaitlin on Twitter: @KaitlinLoukides

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