Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Power costs set to increase this summer

Idaho Public Utilities Commission approves 13.5 percent increase to Idaho Power bills

Express Staff Writer

Last week, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved a set of rate increases to Idaho Power customers that will average 13.5 percent.

For the utility's average power customer—who uses about 1,050-kilowatt hours of electricity per month—the increase will mean an extra charge of $10.51 added to monthly power bills this summer. That will increase the monthly bill for the average customer during the months of June, July and August from $79.53 to $90.04.

Idaho Power customers pay slightly lower rates per kilowatt-hour during the non-summer months. Those rates will also increase by about $10 per month for the average power user.

Those figures are only estimates, said Gene Fadness, spokesman for the Public Utilities Commission. Fadness said a number of variables—such as when customer's electricity use is at its highest—will alter the power bill each customer can expect to pay.

The overall increase approved by the Public Utilities Commission includes four separate rate adjustments, including an increase of more than 10 percent to the annual power cost adjustment. The adjustment is either a one-year surcharge or credit to rates, depending on streamflows and market conditions from the previous year and a forecast of the following year's streamflow conditions. The power cost surcharge covers expenses not already included in base rates and does not go toward boosting company earnings.

In a press release, the commission stated that it is "reluctant to approve any rate increases beyond what is necessary, especially during these economic times," but believes the adjustments were necessary.

The orders in all four of the cases are final, but interested persons can file petitions for reconsideration through June 19. Petitions can be delivered to the commission at 472 W. Washington St. in Boise, mailed to Box 83720, Boise, ID, 83720-0074, or faxed to (208) 334-3762.

Jason Kauffman:

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