Friday, March 21, 2008

Idaho Power proposes rate boost

1.4 percent increase would cover plant acquisition

Express Staff Writer

Idaho Power Co. filed an application this month with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to place construction costs of a 170-megawatt, natural-gas-fired power plant near Mountain Home into its electricity rates.

The utility requested a 1.4 percent increase in rates for all Idaho customers by June 1. The increase would be applied uniformly to all customer classes and would produce an estimated $9 million in additional revenue per year.

"For a typical residential customer using 1,050 kilowatt-hours per month, the increase would represent an additional $1.04 per month during June, July and August, and 87 cents during non-summer months," an Idaho Power press release states.

The Evander Andrews Power Complex is undergoing a $64 million expansion. Built by Siemens-Westinghouse, the new plant will be transferred to Idaho Power's ownership following completion of testing, which is currently underway. It will be available to serve Idaho Power customers in time for this summer's peak irrigation and air-conditioning season.

"Most of the issues relating to this power plant have already been vetted and examined when the commission approved their certificate back in December 2006," said Public Utilities Commission Public Information Officer Gene Fadness. "This is mainly to review their costs. Have the amounts they've spent been prudently incurred before we decide to allow including them in rates?"

The plant produced power for more than four hours under test conditions Feb. 22 and has undergone numerous tests since, Idaho Power said.

Due to drought conditions, Idaho Power last year was able to supply less than 40 percent of its electricity from its hydroelectric system. The company counts on its natural-gas-fired plants to meet peak demands during short periods of time when electrical loads exceed base-load generation capacities. Peak demand periods typically occur during hot summer afternoons when electrical supplies are short and costs for purchases from the wholesale electricity market are highest.

The proposal is subject to public review and approval by the Public Utilities Commission.

Comment deadline is Tuesday, May 13. To comment, log on to, click on "comments and questions" and scroll down to the case number, which is ipc-e-08-01. Or mail comments to Idaho Public Utilities Commission, Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074. Fax comments to (208) 334-3762.

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