BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Power officials are asking state regulators for permission to make big changes to how solar customers pay for their power.

The utility company announced Thursday it wants to create a new class of customers for homeowners and small businesses using renewable energy. Their request is now pending before the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. At issue is a practice called "net metering," which mandates that homeowners and small business owners who install solar panels be compensated for any surplus energy they feed back onto the grid.

Idaho Power officials argue the current system wasn't designed for homeowners who installed their own solar panel and warn traditional power customers are shouldering the extra costs. However, solar panel advocates counter that Idaho Power's request will create a second-class of customers who will likely face hefty fees.

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