Idaho Power wants cloud seeding expenses included in PCA
Idaho Power Company is seeking state approval to include the approximate $1 million in annual costs to operate its cloud seeding program in an account that is annually recovered from customers.
Idaho Power claims the additional streamflows produced by cloud seeding generate more electricity from its hydroelectric facilities and prevents the company from having to acquire that power from more expensive sources. Idaho Power wants to include cloud seeding costs as part of its annual power cost adjustment (PCA) application filed with the commission each spring.
Customer rates are divided into two components, the base rate and the power cost adjustment (PCA). The PCA annually increases (through a one-year surcharge) or decreases (with a credit) customer rates to account for above-normal or below-normal power supply costs. Power supply costs are above normal when water is plentiful and below normal during drought conditions.
Idaho Power sought commission approval to include the costs of its cloud seeding program in the PCA last year, but the commission requested one more year of testing to determine if the program is cost-effective.
The company’s most recent cloud seeding efforts began in 2001 during the Western energy crisis caused by drought and record-high wholesale market prices. Cloud seeding during the 2002-03 winter produced an estimated 110,00 acre-feet of increased run-off to feed Idaho Power’s hydroelectric generators. During the winter of 2003-04, cloud seeding produced another 68,000 acre-feet. Without that additional runoff, Idaho Power would have had to spend between $1.6 and $1.8 million in additional generation during the 2002-03 winter and $1.4 million last winter.
Idaho Power’s application does not have an immediate effect on rates. The company is asking to defer this winter’s cloud seeding costs until the 2006-07 PCA period.
The commission is taking comments through Dec. 13. Comments are accepted via e-mail by accessing the commission’s homepage at www.puc.idaho.gov and clicking on "Comments & Questions." Fill in the case number (IPC-E-05-36) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.
A full text of the commission’s order, along with other documents related to this case, are available on the commission’s Web site. Click on “File Room” and then on “Electric Cases” and scroll down to the above case number.