State utility Idaho Power has agreed to buy 120MW of power from a future solar project in the state’s south at a cost of US2.175¢/kWh – a potentially record-low cost for solar power in the US
The announcement came at the same time that Idaho Power announced it had set a goal to provide 100 per cent clean energy by 2045.
Idaho Power signed a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Idaho-based Jackpot Holdings for the power generated from a solar power project to be built south of Twin Falls and which will help the company replace power produced from the North Valmy coal-fired power plant in Nevada.
The 120 MW project is expected to be completed by 2022 and will connect to an existing transmission line that currently delivered power from the coal power plant.
More importantly, however, is the price Idaho Power will be paying for the electricity, which was awarded at US$21.75/MWh – or 2.175¢/kWh, one of the lowest-cost solar contracts of its size that has been publicly reported.
It is lower than existing publicly known prices for solar PPAs which include a 2.375¢/kWh contract awarded to 8minutenergy in Nevada, a 2.49¢/kWhsolar project in Arizona, and a project in Austin, Texas, which is believed to be below 2.5¢/kWh.
“Today’s announcement reflects Idaho Power’s commitment to resources that balance environmental stewardship with affordability and reliability,” said Idaho Power President and CEO Darrel Anderson. “This deal will provide energy that is not only clean but is also at a cost that benefits our customers.”
At the same time, Idaho Power announced that it has set a goal of providing its customers with 100% clean energy by 2045 – a move which will see the company invest in additional wind, solar, and other clean sources, to compliment its existing hydropower facilities, which already provide around half of customers’ energy demands.
This decision makes Idaho Power one of the first publicly owned energy companies to set a goal for reaching 100% clean energy and doubles down on the company’s existing “Path Away From Coal” which will see the company part ways with two of its three coal-fired power plants by 2025, as it explores ending its participation with the third and final plant.
The company has also already reduced its carbon emissions intensity by almost 50% since 2005.
“Providing 100-per cent clean energy is an important goal for Idaho Power. More and more customers are telling us it is important to them, too,” said Darrel Anderson.
“We believe this goal is attainable. We have a great head start, thanks to our clean hydropower plants that produce almost half the energy our customers use. Our recently signed agreement with Jackpot Holdings moves us even closer.”
“This plan demonstrates Idaho Power’s commitment to doing what’s right for customers’ pocketbooks and the environment,” added Idaho Governor Brad Little. “It also shows innovation can improve our lives with solutions that are reasonably priced, responsible and delivered without government intrusion.”
Idaho Power has promised to announce additional investments in wind, solar, other clean energy sources, and to invest in clean energy storage as well.
Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.