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Battery juice is a double whammy for solar power users who are facing new rules from Idaho Power

Batteries enable solar users to save energy and resell it at peak times if they choose
Posted at 10:31 AM, Jan 23, 2024

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Solar power users are starting to add large batteries to their systems to take advantage of peak reimbursement levels from Idaho Power. As a result, solar users must sell back power at a certain time of day and year to get the best rate.

  • Changes in Idaho Power's buyback formula went into effect January 1.
  • The best way to get the best rate is to store excess power in a battery and then sell it back to the power company at the best time.
  • Interest in batteries for solar systems has nearly doubled since the start of the year.
  • Basic solar systems with batteries can cost anywhere from $30,000 on up.
  • There is a federal exemption that, if you qualify, can save you 30 percent on a system.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

Batteries in electric cars make filling up on gas obsolete and batteries can do a similar thing for your home.

"My goal every day is to use the system to fill up the batteries and use the batteries at night," said local solar powered home owner Ken Wyatt.

Wyatt installed an impressive solar powered battery system in his garage that allows him to save money on energy from the grid and that makes him feel a bit like a superhero.

"It's extremely cool. I call myself an amateur Tony stark," said Wyatt.

Not only that, but he can choose when he wants to sell excess power to the grid to get the highest rates throughout the day.

"With solar and batteries, effectively you're your own power plant. You can control your power, you can take advantage of the peak compensation times during the summer time, also you have battery backup. If grid goes out you have that peace of mind," said owner of Idahome Energy Tyler Grange.

Idaho Power changed the rules for reimbursement at the start of the year from a one-to-one credit to a variable rate depending on the time of day you sell it back. Without batteries you take whatever you get as the power goes on the grid, but with batteries, you can choose to sell your power back at peak times. And that has interest in these 400 pound batteries on the rise.

"We're seeing the number go from 10-15% to closer to 25-30% so we're seeing more and more interest in the batteries. And the good news is the cost for batteries is going to come down. The technology is increasing really quickly," said Grange.

Granted the upfront cost is significant.

"It's an investment," stated Wyatt.

Systems vary widely depending on need but an average system can cost anywhere upward of $30,000 and take 7-10 years to pay off, but they're programmed to be virtually autonomous and can be tracked by your phone.