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Utility Ups Energy-saving Rewards

by Dave Wilkins, Staff Writer
Capital Press, March 2, 2007

TWIN FALLS - Idaho Power Co. will increase incentive payments to irrigators who agree to have their pumps shut down during peak hours this summer.

The utility will increase its Irrigation Peak Rewards incentive from $2.51 to $3.36 per kilowatt hour for customers who sign up for two days per week, a company representative told farmers attending the Idaho Alfalfa and Forage Conference this week.

Irrigators who sign up for three days per week will see incentive payments increase from $2.76 to $4.36 per kwh.

The payment for one-day per week participation will remain unchanged at $2.01 per kilowatt hour.

Participants in the program earn credits on their power bills by agreeing to a four-hour interruption in power from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. for up to three days per week.

Customers can sign up for one, two or three days, Monday through Friday, with payment rates increasing with the number of days.

Last year, the company credited more than $1 million back to irrigators who participated in the program, Idaho Power agricultural representative Gerald Orthel told hay growers Feb. 26.

"This has been a very popular program," Orthel said. "Last year, we had just short of 1,000 farmers involved and we hope to have more this year."

Participants must work around the four-hour shutoff period by adjusting their irrigation schedule, but doing so can be rewarding, Orthel said.

He cited one example last year in which a participant saw a 9 percent overall reduction in his irrigation power bill.

The goal is to conserve energy during peak demand hours so the company doesn't have to purchase as much expensive power on the open market.

Each summer, demand for electricity in Idaho Power's service area hits a peak in late afternoon and early evening, largely because that's when home air conditioning units kick into high gear.

Residential growth, particularly in the Treasure Valley, has placed increasing demands on the company's power system.

The Irrigation Peak Rewards program has helped alleviate some of that demand, Orthel said.

It saved enough power at the peak of demand in early July last year to power about 26,000 homes.

When they sign up, irrigators can request a specific day or days for the automatic shutoff to occur, but the company can't make any guarantees, Orthel said.

By June 1, specific shutoff days will be assigned and timers installed at service points.

The program runs June through August.

The company is opening the program up this year to all metered service points with an ouput of more than 75 horsepower. In prior years, it's been limited to service points with an output of at least 100 horsepower.

A one-time installation fee of $250 will be charged for service points of less than 100 horsepower.

Dave Wilkins is based in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Utility Ups Energy-saving Rewards
Capital Press, March 2, 2007

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