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Idaho Public Utilities Commission gives Idaho Power Co. room to negotiate

Given the fact that, in 2012, Idahoans are on the hook to pay $65 per megawatt-hour for wind power under those non-negotiated rates, when they could be paying $24 for power on the open market, that's a logical conclusion. We live in a region with reliable, relatively clean, inexpensive hydro power that last year accounted for 63 percent of Idaho Power's output.

Score one for the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. The three-member panel found a way to allow Idaho Power to negotiate reasonable contracts with alternative energy producers while still following federal law.

On March 21, the PUC denied Idaho Power's request to avoid the requirement to buy renewable energy under the Public Utility Regulatory Polices Act, passed in 1978 by Congress. That law was intended to promote greater use of renewable domestic energy by giving small producers access to the electricity market.

Small wind producers have capitalized on this, and Idaho Power has been obligated to accept them. But the company hasn't been able to negotiate the rates it pays based on open market demands.

This part of the country doesn't get a lot of wind during peak times when we need power most - in the middle of summer and winter. When we do usually get wind, it's during non-peak times, when we already have plenty of power produced from cheaper, more reliable hydro sources.

The result? Idaho Power would have to pay much more for power it doesn't need. That cost increase gets passed on to you.

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Score one for the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. The three-member panel found a way to allow Idaho Power to negotiate reasonable contracts with alternative energy producers while still following federal law.

On March 21, the PUC denied Idaho Power's request to avoid the requirement to buy renewable energy under the Public Utility Regulatory Polices Act, passed in 1978 by Congress. That law was intended to promote greater use of renewable domestic energy by giving small producers access to the electricity market.

Small wind producers have capitalized on this, and Idaho Power has been obligated to accept them. But the company hasn't been able to negotiate the rates it pays based on open market demands.

This part of the country doesn't get a lot of wind during peak times when we need power most - in the middle of summer and winter. When we do usually get wind, it's during non-peak times, when we already have plenty of power produced from cheaper, more reliable hydro sources.

The result? Idaho Power would have to pay much more for power it doesn't need. That cost increase gets passed on to you.

The PUC didn't free Idaho Power of its obligation to follow PURPA, but it did enable the utility more power to negotiate contracts with these small clean-energy producers.

The "avoided cost rate" is what Idaho Power must pay developers for their power. That's the amount the utility saves by not having to generate or buy the power itself. The PUC ruled current methods of assessing that amount "do not currently produce rates that reflect Idaho Power's avoided costs and are not just and reasonable."

Given the fact that, in 2012, Idahoans are on the hook to pay $65 per megawatt-hour for wind power under those non-negotiated rates, when they could be paying $24 for power on the open market, that's a logical conclusion.

We live in a region with reliable, relatively clean, inexpensive hydro power that last year accounted for 63 percent of Idaho Power's output. The company isn't trying to get off wind power, but rather to negotiate reasonable rates for it based on demand. That's fair, and the PUC has taken a positive step.


Source: http://www.idahopress.com/o...

AUG 6 2012
https://www.windaction.org/posts/34565-idaho-public-utilities-commission-gives-idaho-power-co-room-to-negotiate
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