Idaho Power looks to solar energy, battery storage to supplement future energy demand

Idaho Power is preparing to supply energy for the next 20 years, anticipating a greater energy demand with the state’s increasing population and business growth

By: - April 18, 2023 4:30 am

Based on 952 acres south of Twin Falls near the Idaho-Nevada border, the Jackpot Solar Project is one of the largest solar facilities in operation in Idaho. It is estimated to provide energy to roughly 24,000 homes. (Courtesy of Randy Wheeless / Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions)

Idaho’s largest electricity provider is taking steps to provide clean energy resources for the next 20 years, with one of its recent projects expanding the state’s solar power usage.

In January, Idaho Power began providing energy through the Jackpot Solar Project, a new solar facility based on 952 acres south of Twin Falls.

Developed by Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions a renewable energy company based in North Carolina that offers wind and solar energy solutions across the U.S. the project is the largest solar facility in operation in Idaho and is estimated to provide energy to roughly 24,000 homes, according to a press release from Duke Energy.

Taking nearly 10 months to build, Jackpot Solar Project is Duke Energy’s first solar project in operation in the state, company spokesperson Randy Wheeless said in an email.

Idaho Power spokesperson Brad Bowlin told the Idaho Capital Sun that the company has a 20-year contract with Duke Energy to purchase all the electricity the Jackpot Solar Project generates.

In addition to the 120 megawatts that the Jackpot Solar Project will bring Idaho, Bowlin said Idaho Power has contracts with 20 other commercial solar energy projects across Idaho with a combined capacity of 300 megawatts.

Bowlin said Idaho Power is preparing to supply energy for the next 20 years, anticipating a greater energy demand with Idaho’s increasing population and business growth such as the Micron expansion and the development of a Meta data center.

“All of that combines to increase our demand,” he said. “So we evaluate all of the resources that are available both the ones that we already have on our system, like hydro, coal, natural gas, and other resources that we could bring onto the system. We evaluate those based on, are they reliable, are they affordable, and are they clean?”

Bridging the gap: Battery storage projects close to completion 

Bowlin said the Jackpot Solar Project began its operations in time for summer, when the production of solar energy is at its highest. 

“Production of solar is highest in the middle of the day … when the sun is at its peak,” he said. “Our customer demand is actually highest in the late afternoon and early evening, so as that solar production starts to drop off, that’s when we see the most demand for electricity for our customers.” 

Bowlin said Idaho Power is close to completing large battery storage projects – stations where solar energy can be stored and later released. 

“Batteries will help us to bridge that gap,” he said. “If we have excess solar or other resources to charge those batteries, then we can put that energy back into the system when our customers need it most.”

Bowlin said he encourages Idahoans to shift their electricity usage outside of the high demand times.

For information and tips on how to save energy, visit the Idaho Power website.

“Maybe do laundry later and the dishwasher to go overnight,” he said. “That not only helps us in terms of being able to provide electricity during the time when demand is highest, but it also helps customers because summertime is when we’ll pay the most for electricity. Anything we can do to kind of reduce that use during those times is helpful.”

Idaho Power focused on clean energy goal by 2045

Idaho Power announced its “Clean Today, Cleaner Tomorrow” initiative in 2019 with the goal to provide 100% clean energy by 2045 and reduce its carbon emissions. 

Bowlin said the initiative was a voluntary goal that the company set for environmental and economic purposes.

“The cost of coal energy and also natural gas energy has increased, whereas the price for solar especially, but also wind and other clean energy options has come down,” he said.

Even with most of the company’s energy coming from hydropower, Bowlin said that Idaho Power has made significant progress since it announced the goal.

“We have been transitioning away from coal-fired power,” he said. “When we announced the plan, we had part ownership of seven different coal-fired generators at three separate locations. We have since exited two of those units, with plans to move away from the others in the coming years.”


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Mia Maldonado
Mia Maldonado

Mia Maldonado joined the Idaho Capital Sun after working as a breaking news reporter at the Idaho Statesman covering stories related to crime, education, growth and politics. She previously interned at the Idaho Capital Sun through the Voces Internship of Idaho, an equity-driven program for young Latinos to work in Idaho news. Born and raised in Coeur d'Alene, Mia moved to the Treasure Valley for college where she graduated from the College of Idaho with a bachelor's degree in Spanish and international political economy.