BOISE - People in the Treasure Valley have started to use the sun as a way to combat the increasing energy costs. Over the past year, there's been a growing number of people using solar power.
Boise may not be located in the Valley of the Sun, but when it comes to solar power, southwestern Idaho is one of the best places in the country.
"13th in the nation as far as quality of our solar resource," Ken Miller said. Miller is the energy program director for the Snake River Alliance.
Decreased costs, as well as a federal tax incentive for using solar power, has more and more people turning to it.
"We've seen the utilities buying into solar power and we're seeing the customers demanding solar power," Miller said.
Earlier this year, the Snake River Alliance launched an effort to "Solarize the Valley." It's a campaign that introduces utility customers to solar panel installers. Hundreds of residents signed up for the free assessments, with a number deciding to go green.
"We have 42 homes that have contracts now," Miller said.
One of those contracts belongs to Rick Just, who decided to go green because of the decreasing costs.
"It'll pay back pretty fast, yeah," Just said.
He anticipates his solar panels will pay for themselves in about 10 years. They save him about $125 a month and have reduced his power bill to single digits.
"We anticipate it will be about 5 dollars a month," Just said.
Just got solar panels installed on his roof, which not everyone can do because Miller says some may be renters or have trees that surround their home.
Idaho Power has started their Community Solar Pilot Program. It's a program where people can subscribe to have their power come from a solar farm.
"So they can subscribe to that. So they will actually be getting solar power. So we're seeing on different levels a lot of interest particular to just a year ago this time," Miller said.
Idaho Power is set to start construction on the 500-kilowatt facility in the winter of next year. The cost for a subscription is $562. It can be paid up front or in installments.
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