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Idaho utility companies, wind developers come to agreement

To resolve cost issues, the utility commission established an amount that utilities can assess against wind developers to make up for the costs associated with integrating wind into the power grid. The commission also removed a cap on the size of small-power projects that can qualify for a rate published by the commission. However, the judgment was not easily reached. In 2005, Idaho Power asked the commission to suspend small-power wind development so it could study how much it costs the company to provide back-up generation when wind output fluctuates.

A nearly three-year dispute between Idaho utility companies and wind developers has been resolved, according to a statement issued by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission.

The disagreement, which involved three major cases that argued how much it costs to add wind power to the public utility grid, was resolved through discussions between the Idaho Power Co. and Idaho wind farm developers.

Both Idaho Power and the developers said they were satisfied with the ruling.

"This was really a joint agreement between Idaho Power and our wind farm developers,"said Dennis Lopez, corporate communications specialist with the Idaho Power Co. "It was a discussion that lasted two or three years and it certainly was a long and strange journey."

Although Idaho Power was the primary utility in the deliberations, smaller utilities such as the Avista Power Company in eastern Idaho were also a part of the negotiations.

To resolve cost issues, the utility commission established an amount that utilities can assess against wind developers to make up for the costs associated with integrating wind into the power grid. The commission also removed a cap on the size of small-power projects that can... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A nearly three-year dispute between Idaho utility companies and wind developers has been resolved, according to a statement issued by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission.

The disagreement, which involved three major cases that argued how much it costs to add wind power to the public utility grid, was resolved through discussions between the Idaho Power Co. and Idaho wind farm developers.

Both Idaho Power and the developers said they were satisfied with the ruling.

"This was really a joint agreement between Idaho Power and our wind farm developers,"said Dennis Lopez, corporate communications specialist with the Idaho Power Co. "It was a discussion that lasted two or three years and it certainly was a long and strange journey."

Although Idaho Power was the primary utility in the deliberations, smaller utilities such as the Avista Power Company in eastern Idaho were also a part of the negotiations.

To resolve cost issues, the utility commission established an amount that utilities can assess against wind developers to make up for the costs associated with integrating wind into the power grid. The commission also removed a cap on the size of small-power projects that can qualify for a rate published by the commission.

However, the judgment was not easily reached.

In 2005, Idaho Power asked the commission to suspend small-power wind development so it could study how much it costs the company to provide back-up generation when wind output fluctuates.

The commission denied the suspension, but agreed to decrease the size of small-power projects - from 10 megawatts to 100 kilowatts.

Later that year, Idaho Power Co. and two other major utilities completed studies to determine wind integration costs.

The utilities and most windfarm developers proposed a settlement that would bring the size limit of projects back up to 10 MW.

Wind developers proposed more certainty to utilities by agreeing to share the cost of buying wind forecasting services, and provide guarantees that their projects would be mechanically able to generate at full output during 85 percent of the hours during a month.

"The commission finds that the costs of wind integration are real, not illusory," the commission said in a written statement.

The commission established a tiered-discount for Idaho Power and another utility that increases as more wind is added, but caps the discount so that it can go no higher than $6.50 per MWh.

According to a statement from the utilities commission, one of the wind developers in the case, Exergy Development Group of Idaho, argued against an integration discount saying "the science is in its 'infancy,' and that enough variables and uncertainties exist to make it impossible to determine a fair rate."

Wind-powered electrical generation is gaining popularity in the U.S.

Renewable Energy Systems America Developments has proposed a 185-turbine generation project, called China Mountain, on 9,000 acres west of U.S. Highway 93 between Twin Falls and Jackpot. Power from the project would initially be used by Nevada utilities.

Another energy company has leased BLM land related to a proposed 100-turbine wind farm on Cotterel Mountain in Cassia County.


Source: http://www.magicvalley.com/...

FEB 23 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/13475-idaho-utility-companies-wind-developers-come-to-agreement
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