Renewable Energy Technology Incentives in Idaho
Idaho has a number of renewable energy technology incentives in place as well as rich natural resources including great geothermal potential. It is seen as one of the green energy successes of the US with as much as 82% of its electricity needs provided by renewable technology. This may be, of course, because of the state’s dependence on hydroelectric for a number of years, all of which provided some 60% of the mix in 2014.
18% of the electricity generation, however, comes from wind with a capacity of over 900 MW, though it’s thought, with the right infrastructure in place, the state has the natural ability to provide all of its electricity in this form. By 2015, Idaho had in the region of 461 MW of solar capacity on the cards and cities such as Boise were planning large scale plants to add to the energy mix.
Because of rising fuel costs, Idaho is looking for variation in its energy production. Perhaps because it gets so much of its electricity from hydro, the state hasn’t developed a renewable portfolio standard as other areas of the US have. While technologies such as solar PV are important for off-grid remote areas and provide a cost effective solution to electricity generation, uptake for residential properties remains constant but not as incentivized as in other states.
Solar PV Incentives in Idaho
For home solar, residents don’t have access to leasing or Power Purchase opportunities so the only way to get it is to take out a loan or use savings to finance the installation. As with other states, Idaho benefits from the Federal Tax Rebate that removes 30% of the cost of installation for renewable technologies such as solar PV, solar thermal, wind and hydro. There is the state incentive for Residential Alternative Energy Tax Deduction that can rise to a total of $20,000. For businesses and Federal Government, there are additional incentives for installing solar PV such as the Renewable Energy Project Bond Program.
Solar PV Case Study in Idaho
Purchasing your solar array outright leads to the best return on investment for Idaho’s home owners. The cost of a 5 kW array is slightly more expensive than in other states at $21,500 and comes with the 30% Federal Tax Rebate and other incentives that reduce the cost to about $14,500. Taking into account the reduction in electricity bills over the 25-year term of the array, you should be able to see profits of over $15,000 as well as an increase on the sale value of the property of a similar amount. While not in the same league as some other states, buying a solar installation can yield decent profits and represents a worthwhile long term investment.
Solar Thermal Incentives in Idaho
Solar thermal, where you use the sun to heat up the hot water for your home, can be a cost effective and clean solution to all round heating costs. With the Federal Tax Rebate as well as some utility incentives such as the Questar Gas Residential Solar Assisted Water Heating Rebate Program there are a number of ways in which residential properties can get solar thermal installed for less than the normal retail cost.
Small Hydro Incentives in Idaho
Needless to say, hydro is big in Idaho and much of its power is provided by the numerous plants it has dotted around the state. Particularly for remote, off-grid areas such as farms and small communities, micro hydro is a viable alternative to technologies such as solar and provides a more constant flow of electricity if installed properly. Problems with diverting rivers can mean that planning permission and agreement are difficult to come by but installers can access low interest loans through the Office of Energy Resources up to $100,000.
Geothermal Incentives in Idaho
With good natural resources, geothermal is a strong renewable energy resource in the state. There is a property tax exemption for both geothermal installations and wind power that can be beneficial although tax is levied on the amount of energy produced (3%). Ground source heat pumps can significantly lower heating bills if installed in the right property and a number of the utility companies, as with other states, provide incentives to install, including the Idaho Power Company.
Biomass Incentives in Idaho
Over recent years, biomass has contributed as much as 9% to the energy mix for the state and it has a large amount of natural resources to feed the industry. Idaho have their own biomass project that is designed to encourage businesses and residential areas to take up the technology.
Wind Power Incentives in Idaho
With the Federal Tax Rebate and state tax rebate, as well as possible property tax exemptions wind is a viable option particularly for remote areas that are off-grid. With a general cost of around $7,000 per kWh installed, taking on a wind turbine is an expensive business and is a long term investment. More emphasis, however, may be put on this form of energy production in the future and it has been particularly important for rural areas where wind energy can provide an important additional income for many farmers. Wind has had a stop start relationship with the state over the last few years. In 2010 some 30 projects were approved but then the brakes were put on because of pressure from the main power companies.
With more than half of its electricity already coming from a renewable source such as hydro, Idaho has been luckier than many other states who have long depended on gas, oil and coal to power their homes. The state is moving towards a better mix of renewables and, even though it doesn’t yet have a portfolio standard, it is still way ahead of many in the US.
To find out more about the incentives provided by Idaho for renewable technology, visit the DSIRE website.