Idaho Power Rates Go Up, Again
by Rocky Barker
Idaho Statesman, May 31, 2008
The increase, about $6.80 per month for the average residential customer, goes into effect on Sunday.
Expect another increase on your power bill, thanks in part to last year's bad water year.
State regulators approved several adjustments to Idaho Power Co. rates Friday that will cost the average residential customer, who uses 1,050 kilowatt hour per month, about $6.80 a month.
The increases approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission will begin Sunday.
The average residential customer bill will be $79.62 in the summer and $74.07 in the winter, the company estimated.
The largest part of the increase is in the annual power-cost adjustment, which accounts for the changing Snake River stream flow and its effects on hydroelectric power generation from the company's 17 dams. This year, the adjustment boosts rates for all customer classes by an average 10.7 percent. For residential customers, the increase is 8.45 percent.
The rate increase comes because last year's flow of 2.8 million acre-feet at Brownlee Reservoir was substantially below normal. The hydro plants produced significantly less power, which required the utility to pay more for coal-fired power and for higher-cost power purchased from other producers.
"We're paying our power bill for last year," said Dennis Lopez, a spokesman for Idaho Power.
This year the flows, measured between April and July, are expected to be 5.4 million acre-feet, which would produce more hydro power. A good water year could reduce rates in the future.
The PUC also approved a 1.37 percent increase to base rates to help pay for $63.4 million in costs for the new Danskin natural gas plant near Mountain Home. There is also a 1 percent increase to expand Idaho Power's energy-efficiency programs.
Finally, rates for residential and small-commercial customers will decrease by eight-tenths of 1 percent as a result of the fixed-cost adjustment, which allows the utility to decouple its fixed costs from consumer power demand.
Idaho Power provides electricity to 400,000 residential customers, 62,888 commercial and industrial customers and, 18,126 irrigation customers across southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. It brought in more than $879 million in revenues in 2007.
In March, the PUC granted Idaho Power a general rate increase that gave residential customers a 4.7 percent rate increase and customers in all other classes an average 5.65 percent increase.
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