Letters From the West

Idaho PUC approves Idaho Power cost shift

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved an Idaho Power request to shed $105.7 million from its annual power cost adjustment and to place the costs into its permanent base rate.

The power cost adjustment reflects Idaho Power’s actual costs of providing power, fluctuating up or down depending on how market prices and other factors compare to the company’s predictions.

This won’t affect your power bill now, but it should reduce the soaring increases from the power cost adjustment that last year rose 15.3 percent, one of the highest on record.

A big chunk of these costs – $62.6 million – came from power sales agreements with wind projects required under the provisions of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act. PURPA requires utilities to buy energy from qualifying renewable energy projects and many have come online since 2010.

This doesn’t mean the post cost adjustment this year won’t increase your bill. Low water this year could force Idaho Power to get power somewhere else, especially during its peak season. And Idaho Power may find low prices again when it sells excess power on the open market.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

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