Solar power is looking to be the smart choice when it comes to electric power sources. The cost of solar power is decreasing while every other energy resources are increasing. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it hasn’t dropped below the cost of traditional energy generation but the gap is narrowing fast at the moment. This is the reason why Idaho Power wants to gamble on it.
Mark Stokes, Idaho Power’s manager of power supply planning, said that the trend is looking good for solar photovoltaic systems. If the costs continue to drop, then it would be the right choice to use to meet the load demands of the utility’s consumers.
Idaho Power is planning to set up a solar demonstration project that would be operational at the end of 2012 but it would not be used until early 2013. This is not the first solar power project that the utility has undertaken. In the late 80s and early 90s, Idaho Power harnessed the sun’s power to pump water for livestock. In 1993, it installed solar panels on the roof of its Boise headquarters.
The planned solar power demonstration project would be its first large-scale photovoltaic installation that will generate electricity. It would use more efficient solar panels that would produce more watt per dollar.
Stokes added that solar power has advantages over other alternative energy sources. Solar would be at its maximum potential during the day when people are actively using electricity and during summer when irrigation pumps and air conditioning units will be used most of the time.
He also said that if a thunderstorm is in the area then production of solar power plant would drop. But at the same time, the load is reduced because people would not be using air conditioners during the storm.
However, Idaho Power is now embroiled in a controversy involving RECs, or commonly known as green tags. A solar developer from Elmore County accuses the utility of trying to steal its renewable energy credits from a 20-megawatt project.
The certificates can be sold by renewable developers to utilities in states such as Oregon and Washington, where utilities are required a certain amount of green tags to pass green-power mandates. Idaho Power said that it needs to have a share of the RECs from Grand View’s solar power installation in Elmore County as well as from other projects to comply with federal renewable energy requirements if they are approved by Congress.