Case No. IPC-E-05-24

October 4, 2005

Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339 office; (208) 841-1107 cell




Idaho Power wind agreement approved


The Idaho Public Utilities Commission today approved a 20-year sales agreement between Idaho Power and a Montana wind plant.


Idaho Power will purchase up to 10 average megawatts (aMW) of wind for nine months of the year from the Arrow Rock Wind Generating Project about 100 miles northwest of Billings.


Arrow Rock has made arrangements with NorthWestern Energy to deliver the energy from its Montana facility to the Idaho Power electrical system. The transmission arrangement with NorthWestern means that Idaho Power will receive firm energy from the wind plant rather than the intermittent energy generally associated with a wind-generating project.


Arrow Rock has a capacity to produce up to 19.5 megawatts, but under normal conditions the project will not exceed 10 aMW, the maximum size a firm project can be to qualify for a rate granted small-power producers who produce renewable energy. The project qualifies as a small-power production facility under the provisions of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, or PURPA. Congress passed PURPA during the energy crisis of the late 1970s. Its purpose is to encourage development of renewable energy technologies as alternatives to burning fossil fuels or constructing new power plants. The federal act requires that electric utilities offer to buy power produced by small-power producers or cogenerators who obtain Qualifying Facility (QF) status. The rate to be paid to project developers is a published rate set by the commission that is to be equal to the cost the electric utility avoids if it would have had to generate the power itself or purchase it from another source.


The commission currently has a temporary limit of no more than 100 kilowatts on intermittent wind projects to qualify for published PURPA rates. Because the Arrow Rock project will deliver firm energy, it qualifies for the published PURPA rates under the 10 MW limit placed on all renewable projects – such as geothermal, hydroelectric, wind and industrial cogeneration – that produce firm energy.


Documents related to this case are available on the commission’s Web site at Click on “File Room” and then on “Electric Cases” and scroll down to Case No. IPC-E-05-24.