Idaho Energy Update
Aug. 21, 2009
Intermountain Gas Co. has asked the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to approve a hefty reduction in gas bills as a result of abundant natural gas prices. Meanwhile, Ridgeline Energy will need to re-apply for its Goshen South wind farm near Blackfoot after a judge determined there were irregularities by the Bingham County in processing the permit. And Idaho Power has an online tool to gauge your home’s energy use, while Inovus Solar is the first green tech occupant in Boise’s new green business corridor.
For more on these developments and others, 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: Intermountain Gas Files for Big Decrease Thanks to Ample Gas Supplies
Boise-based Intermountain Gas Company is asking the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to approve a 21.6 percent decrease to its annual Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment, which if approved by the PUC would take effect Oct. 1. The PUC application is made possible by strong natural gas supplies and resulting favorable prices.
“Our goal is to manage our gas supply portfolio in such a way as to provide market responsive prices to our customers prior to the coming heating season,” said Intermountain Gas Executive Vice President and General Manager Frank Morehouse. “Due to a current abundance of natural gas supply, we have been able to purchase the gas needed by our customers at favorable prices and are pleased to be able to pass along these savings.”
According to the company, residential customers using natural gas for space heating and water heating will save an average of 22.2 percent, or $16.23 a month, while customers using natural gas only for space heating will save an average of $11.27 a month, or 20.2 percent, based on average weather and use.
Intermountain Gas, like Idaho’s regulated electric utilities, files annual cost adjustments to the PUC to reflect changes in fuel prices and other power cost variables. In the case of Intermountain, that’s primarily gas availability and price. In the case of electric utilities, variables can include hydro conditions and coal and gas prices, depending on power sources. These annual cost adjustments are separate from periodic rate increases, and the adjustments can mean decreases in bills such as in this case, or increases in bills, such as in Idaho Power’s recent Power Cost Adjustment that was approved by the PUC.
Despite the welcome reduction in gas costs, Intermountain nonetheless urges customers to use conservation measures to reduce their bills. Information on those measures and payment assistance programs is included in customer bill inserts, as well as on www.intgas.com.
II: Ridgeline Told to Re-Apply for Bingham County Wind Project
Ridgeline Energy, the developer of Idaho’s largest wind project east of Idaho Falls, was told this week it needs to re-submit its application for a special use permit for its proposed Goshen South wind farm near Blackfoot.
The Idaho State Journal in Pocatello reported today that Bingham County Judge Richard St. Clair ruled a number of mistakes were made by the county in its handling of Ridgeline’s application to build the 150-turbine project in Wolverine Canyon. Among other things, the judge ruled two members of the Bingham County Planning and Zoning Commission had a conflict of interest in processing the project but took part in it anyway. County officials are in the process of writing new planning ordinances dealing with energy projects, which could affect the project, so Ridgeline may need to re-submit its application or wait until the new ordinances are in effect, the newspaper reported. It also reported that Ridgeline’s Goshen South project manager, Randy Gardner, said the company will likely re-apply within the next three months.
Ridgeline has re-applied for the project once before, after county planners approved half the original 300 turbines sought by the company for the Goshen South project. The company built the 43-turbine, 64.5 megawatt Wolverine Creek project – the state’s largest – near Idaho Falls. Power from that project is sold to PacifiCorp, which does business in Idaho as Rocky Mountain Power.
III: Idaho Power Offers ENERGY Tools to Help Customers Determine Power Use
Idaho Power Company is inviting customers to log onto its ENERGY Tools feature to help them get a better sense of where their electricity is going and how power-hungry various home appliances and other devices are.
By logging on and entering their own information (have the most recent bill handy), customers can sign up to be an “account manager” if they are not already. After inputting their own information, the tool will generate recommendations on how to reduce energy use and how their energy use compares to similar homes. There are also breakdowns of annual energy costs for various major appliances and tips on saving energy through improvements in lighting, heating and cooling, water consumption, and weatherization.
To access ENERGY Tools, go to www.idahopower.com/energyefficiency and click on the “tools” tab and then “ENERGY Tools.”
IV: Inovus Solar Moving to Boise GreenTech Corridor
Boise-based Inovus Solar (www.inovussolar.com), a young green tech company that was hatched in Boise’s WaterCooler small business incubator, is about to become the first of what officials hope are many green business corridor known as the “Wedg” – for “west end of downtown green.” The company will be located at 300 South 23rd Street in The 300 Building, once furniture showroom.
Inovus, which now has 23 full and part-time employees, is best known for its flagship SmartPole line of solar-powered utility lighting systems that can work on their own or plug into the electric grid.
“Managing our cash burn rate is the best way to ensure our continued success,” said Inovus Solar CEO Clay Young. “The owners of The 300 Building are very progressive thinkers with a clear vision of the future for green technologies.” Young is a co-founder of ProClarity a software company that was purchased by Microsoft in 2006.
Inovus Solar says its smart lights reduce energy consumption as well as reliance on the crowded electric grid. Besides its new-generation street and area lights, the company also offers LED retrofits for existing light poles. The advanced LED technology delivers five times the life on the light while using 75 percent less power than traditional high-pressure sodium and metal halide lights.
On The Agenda:
► The Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on Aug. 24, and 31. 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.
► Trout Unlimited, Sierra Club, Idaho Rivers United, the Be Outside Initiative and the U.S. Forest Service are sponsoring Kokanee Outdoor Day Aug. 29 in Idaho City. The free event runs from noon to 6 p.m. and is a celebration of the famed red fish that make a run up Mores Creek. The event includes a number of activities along Mores Creek on Highway 21 and a festival at the Idaho City park. For more information, contact Jessica Ruehrwein at the Sierra Club at 384-1023 or Pam Elkovich at Trout Unlimited at 345-9800. To see the flier for the event, go to: http://www.idahocitychamber.com/KokaneeDays09.pdf
►The Idaho Legislature’s Interim Energy, Environment, and Technology Committee is scheduled to hold what may be its only meeting between legislative sessions on Sept. 1 and 2 in Room 204 of the Capital Annex. And agenda will be posted closer to the meeting.
►Idaho Power will resume its Integrated Resource Plan development process with a meeting of the Integrated Resource Plan Advisory Committee on Sept. 17. The planning process was recessed last spring and the Public Utilities Commission granted Idaho Power an extension until the end of the year in light of delays on a key Idaho-Oregon transmission line and the need to update the company’s forecasts in light of the current recession. The meetings are open to the public and are held at Idaho Power’s Boise’s headquarters. For more information on the IRP, visit: http://www.idahopower.com/AboutUs/PlanningForFuture/irp/2009/default.cfm