U.S.: Idaho Power signs first large solar energy agreement

Under the agreement, Grand View Solar PV One will develop a field of solar panels across 180 acres of land, located 16 miles west of Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. Company owner Robert Paul said this is his first solar installation. "Large solar projects are just now becoming feasible," he said. “Solar panels have become more efficient, and the push for renewable energy has encouraged agencies to support solar energy.”

The location is close to the Canyon Creek electrical substation so Mr. Paul said he won’t need to construct a substation, thus saving a couple of million dollars.

The solar power falls under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, which requires power companies to offer to buy power from qualifying small producers. Although the project’s total capacity will be 20 MW, under the act Idaho Power won’t pay the agreed rates for any more than an average of 10 MW monthly.

The proposed field is just the first of two solar projects Mr. Paul. is looking to undertake. He also said that he is working with Simplot to develop another solar panel field nearby, which will go through a separate permit process. "The 10 MW limitation is per permit, not per developer, so he could be paid for up to 20 MW," said Idaho Public Utilities Commission representative, Gene Fadness.

Idaho Power applied to the PUC for approval of the deal and the commission has now posted the proposal for public comment.