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It makes sense to save money if you use less of something. Use less gas, spend less money at the pump. Xeriscape your yard, save on your water bill.

You’d be shocked if the gas station tried to charge you more per gallon for using less fuel. Or the water utility raised your rates because you’re saving water. Yet, Idaho Power wants to do just that with Idahoans who create their own energy.

Idahoans who generate their own electricity, typically from solar panels, are “net metering” customers. These customers pay for any power they consume from the grid. If their electricity system covers their needs and generates extra, the utility provides a credit.

Each month net metering customers pay for the difference between the utility power they consume and any credits they receive. And net metering customers pay the same monthly customer charge like everyone else.

So the only difference from a regular utility customer is a net metering customer invests their own money in clean energy to meet their own needs. If they have a little extra power they just want to be paid fairly for providing local, clean energy to their neighbors.

But now Idaho Power wants to reduce the rate it credits for any extra power Idahoans generate ...That’s right. Even though you’re generating your own electricity, Idaho Power wants to reduce the rate they pay you for being independent and putting any excess on the grid.

Many homeowners and business owners in Idaho want to reduce their power bills and support clean energy. Refer to publicnewsservice.org/2017-12-19/energy-policy/more-idahoans-solarizing-their-rooftops/a60685-1. They’ve invested millions of dollars into our local economy by installing rooftop solar systems, which support local jobs and workers. These Idahoans are reducing our reliance on out-of-state fossil fuels and protecting our air quality. Just the thought of Idaho Power changing its net metering rates has kept potential customers from hiring installers.

Idaho Power says it supports clean energy, too. But what they’re doing with net metering doesn’t make sense to me and it doesn’t make sense for Idaho families, the local economy, and Idaho’s air quality.

If you agree, contact the Idaho Public Utilities Commission at puc.idaho.gov/forms/casecomment.aspx and fill out a comment form, Case Number IPC-E-18-15, to let them know you expect Idaho Power to treat net metering customers fairly. If Idaho Power believes in their commitment to clean energy they should help, not hobble, Idaho’s clean energy future.

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Ben Otto is the Idaho Conservation League’s energy associate.

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