Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Idaho Power seeks general rate increase

Request to be reviewed by IPUC


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Idaho Power Co. filed a request on June 1 for a 9.9 percent overall average rate hike—the same day that a previously approved rate decrease took effect.

The proposed increase averages 8.83 percent for residential customers and 14.8 percent for irrigators.

The new rates, requested as a "base rate" hike, require review by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. If approved, the rates would take effect Jan. 1, 2012.

"Base rates are established periodically based upon a comprehensive look at all of our costs," said Idaho Power spokeswoman Stephanie McCurdy.

If the IPUC approves the latest request for an increase, a typical customer could see his or her monthly bill rise approximately $7 to $8—from $75.42 to $82.59 during non-summer months and from $82.45 to $90.59 per month during June, July and August.

"Idaho Power ... does not take lightly any request to increase rates," Greg Said, vice president of regulatory affairs, said in a news release. "However, it is important for us to achieve fair and timely recovery of our costs to provide customers with safe and reliable electric service, which today's rates do not fully provide."

Different reasons for previous request

The decrease that took effect June 1 was due to one decrease and two smaller increases.

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"The net result was a decrease," McCurdy said.

The annual Power Cost Adjustment provided the cost-reduction portion of the equation. Under that adjustment, when costs of supplying energy to customers go down, rates are adjusted to reflect that; if costs go up, customers see an increase.

Because power supply costs were lower last year, the typical Idaho residential customer using 1,050 kilowatt-hours of energy per month is seeing a decrease related to the Power Cost Adjustment of about $2.97 on his or her monthly bill.

The decrease was tempered by increases stemming from the annual Fixed Cost Adjustment and a pension fund expense recovery.

The Fixed Cost Adjustment seeks to recoup costs lost to programs such as conservation and energy efficiency.

"Customer rates include recovery of fixed amounts that don't vary with usage and variable amounts that do vary with usage," McCurdy said. "However, rates for residential customers are primarily variable in nature ... [and] as a result, fixed costs are recovered through variable rates. When customers use less energy, variable costs are reduced, but fixed costs are not. The fixed cost adjustment corrects for this and allows us to recover our fixed costs which would otherwise not be recovered."

The public may view Idaho Power's proposal on Idaho Power's website, www.idahopower.com, or on the IPUC's website, www.puc.idaho.gov.

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com

PUC taking comments on conservation programs

Idaho Power is asking state regulators to determine that nearly $43 million that the company spent on energy conservation programs was justified and beneficial. Idaho Power has 16 energy-efficiency programs and three demand-response programs. Such a determination by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission does not impact customer rates at this time. Comments are accepted through June 26 via email by accessing the commission's website, or by mail to Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074, or via fax to 208-334-3762.




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