Idaho PUC Accepts Idaho Power's
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has accepted a long-range planning document from Idaho Power Co. but expects the company to continue to address issues raised by the commission and environmental organizations.
Those issues include the company's continued involvement in the Gateway West transmission-line project, evaluating the potential for the early retirement of coal plants, the progress of a solar demonstration project, and the federal relicensing of the Hells Canyon hydro projects.
Idaho's electric and gas utilities are required to file an integrated resource plan (IRP) every two years detailing how the utilities plan to meet customer demand in 10- and 20-year windows.
Idaho Power expects its customers to increase from 492,000 in 2010 to more than 650,000 by the end of 2030. Average load is expected to increase by 29 average MW (1.4% annually) by 2030. Summer peak-hour loads are expected to increase by 69 MW (1.8% annually).
Idaho Power's plan continues its emphasis on reducing load through energy=efficiency measures and programs that reduce demand by shifting large industrial or irrigation loads off peak-use times. The utility plans to reduce load by 233 average MW annually by 2030 through energy-efficiency programs and reduce demand by 351 MW by summer 2016.
The utility also expects to have 450 MW of power capacity available in market purchases once the Boardman to Hemingway transmission project is completed, which is expected to ocurr in 2016.
Members of environmental organizations, major industrial customers, agricultural interest groups, state legislators, PUC staff and representatives from the state Office of Energy Resources and Northwest Power and Conservation Council participate as members of the Integrated Resource Plan Advisory Council.
The Idaho Conservation League, Renewable Northwest Project (RNP) and Snake River Alliance (SRA) say the company's plans to upgrade its Jim Bridger coal plant do not provide details on the costs of that strategy as opposed to using alternative sources of generation rather than upgrading the coal plant, according to the PUC.
RNP and SRA also say Idaho Power should consider alternatives other than a natural-gas plant if the Boardman to Hemingway transmission line is not completed. That 300-mile, 500 kV transmission line from Boardman, Ore., to Melba, Idaho, is expected to improve access to markets, meet peak summer capacity needs and increase reliability for Idaho Power customers.
Commissioners from Power County and Cassia County say Idaho Power should reconsider its joint commitment with Rocky Mountain Power to build the Gateway West transmission line from northeastern Wyoming, through southcentral Idaho and ending near Melba. The commissioners say reduced electrical demand and growing doubt that Congress will approve carbon-restricting legislation, such as a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, diminish the need to build the 1,100-mile line.
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