Idaho Energy Update
December 4, 2009
Idaho Power and several of its customer groups are asking the Public Utilities Commission to bless an agreement in which the company would freeze new rate cases for two years in exchange for a piece of the annual power cost adjustment. On the nuke front, AEHI continues to play two counties against each other as it dangles its would-be nuclear reactor in front of both. For more on these developments, please read on.
Thanks as always, and if you have any calendar items, please send them along!
Clean Energy Program Director
Snake River Alliance
I: Idaho Power Seeks Rate Hike Moratorium in Trade for Higher Return
Idaho Power is asking the Public Utilities Commission to approve an agreement with some of its customer groups that calls for a freeze on rate cases through January 2012
The deal, which the PUC will set for public review and comment later, was reached between the state’s largest electric utility and such customer groups as the Industrial Customers of Idaho Power, the Community Action Partnership Association of Idaho, the Idaho Irrigation Pumpers Association, Micron Technology, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Kroger Company.
Rather than file a general rate case, which in recent years Idaho Power does every year or so, the agreement calls for a freeze in general rate increases through the end of 2011. In exchange, Idaho Power would receive among other things a share of the annual “power cost adjustment,” which reflects the company’s costs to generate power. Power cost adjustment cases are filed each year. In years of abundant stream flows that allow increased use of relatively cheap hydropower, customers receive a discount on their bills. But in times of poor water flows, customers pay a surcharge to offset the added costs of acquiring power. Under the terms of this proposal, Idaho Power would receive a piece of what is expected to be a large ($160 million or more) favorable PCA due to this year’s good stream flows.
In addition, the stipulation would allow Idaho Power to speed up its use of the customer share of the tax credits it receives on its capital investments. Those customer groups that participated in the agreement said giving the company a share of the expected PCA bonus is worth it in exchange for having stable rates over the next two years.
The agreement does not affect other possible changes in customer rates, such as future PCA adjustments or any changes to the existing energy efficiency tariff customers now pay on their bills to support efficiency programs.
To review the application and related documents, go to www.puc.idaho.gov and then “File Room” and then “Electric Cases” and IPC-E-09-30.
II: Payette, Elmore Counties Take up Nomad Nuke Plant
Would-be developers of a proposed nuclear reactor sought to push their unfunded project on two fronts in November.
The Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission voted Nov. 18 to recommend a change to the county’s comprehensive plan as it relates to industrial zones, which are the only places Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., could stick its proposed reactor. AEHI, which first sought to build the power plant in neighboring Owyhee County, next targeted a parcel of prime farmland atop the Snake River in Elmore County. But county officials recommended against AEHI’s rezoning request on grounds it violated the county’s development plan. The planners’ latest recommendation doesn’t mean AEHI can move forward in Elmore County, however, since they didn’t suggest where new industrial zones should be located. Even if those zones are established, AEHI would face an uphill fight for a permit for its plant.
Complaining Elmore County wasn’t moving fast enough, AEHI then moved downstream to Payette County and a site far from the Snake River and east of Payette. A day after the Elmore County planning meeting, the Payette County Planning and Zoning Commission held a hearing on whether to revise its comprehensive plan to accommodate AEHI’s nuclear reactor. After hearing from a huge crowd, Payette planners took the matter under consideration. If they were to amend the county’s plan, AEHI would still need to have its proposed property rezoned, and then seek a permit to build.
AEHI has notified the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it intended to file its application for a reactor by the end of this year .There is no longer any chance of that happening, and the company has yet to notify the NRC whether it plans to pursue a reactor project at both sites or which of the sites it’s entertaining. It also has not indicated what kind of reactor it plans to build, having changed a reactor vendor once already. And in filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, AEHI said it has no funds to pursue the project and no prospect of securing any. No Idaho utilities have indicated interest in dealing with AEHI, and neither location has adequate transmission in the vicinity.
On The Agenda:
► The Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on Dec. 7, 14, 21, and 28. Agendas are normally posted the day before on the Commission’s website at www.puc.state.id.us. The meetings typically start at 1:30 p.m.
► Idaho Power’s Integrated Resource Plan Advisory Committee meets Dec. 10 at the company’s Boise headquarters. The meeting is open to the public, but the details, including the time, have not been announced. The Committee has been meeting since late 2008 to help the company prepare its every-other-year plan, which serves as a roadmap for how it will meet its future electricity needs. Idaho Power expects to submit the plan to the Idaho PUC by the end of this year, after which the PUC will announce a public review and comment period. For information on the IRP process, visit http://www.idahopower.com/AboutUs/PlanningForFuture/irp/2009/default.cfm