Idaho Power seeks extension of conservation programs
Boise – Idaho Power Company is seeking approval from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to continue two energy conservation programs offered in the Emmett area.
The pilot programs, Time-of-Use and Energy Watch, are available to customers who volunteer to participate and have advanced meter readers installed.
Advanced meter readers (AMR) can be read from a remote location without having to enter a customer’s property and can provide the company and customer with hourly meter readings. Some AMR systems have the ability to inform customers of current electric prices, potentially allowing them to manage their electrical use and reduce their bills.
The pilot programs expired on April 1. The company is seeking authority to continue the programs for an additional year, allowing customers who participated last summer to continue if they choose and soliciting more volunteer participants. According to company reports, 76 of 79 participants in the Energy Watch program stayed with the program throughout last summer and 92 of 95 customers in Time-of-Day program stayed on the program. Sixty percent of customers indicated they would participate again and 50 percent said they would recommend the programs to others. The company hopes to get up to 300 participants.
Idaho Power reports that customers in the Time-of-Day program saved about 5 percent on their bills and customers on Energy Watch saved about 10 percent. The Energy Watch participants were able to cause a statistically significant reduction in Idaho Power’s overall load requirements during peak hours when power is most expensive.
Under the Energy Watch Pilot Program, Idaho Power allows volunteer participants to pay the less expensive non-summer rate (5.08 cents per kWh) instead of the summer rate (5.72 cents per kWh) except during the company’s selected Energy Watch periods, when the rate would be 20 cents per kWh. The company notifies volunteer customers either by telephone or by e-mail by 4 p.m. a day before the Energy Watch period. Energy Watch periods can occur on any weekday from June 15 through August 15 for four hours between 5 and 9 p.m. Energy Watch periods will occur on no more than 10 days from June 15 to August 15 for a total of 40 hours.
The Time-of-Day Pilot Program would allow volunteers to shift their use to off-peak periods when the rate is lower. In order to increase the financial incentive for customers to participate, Idaho Power is proposing to increase the difference between off-peak and on-peak rates.
Off-peak times, during which the customer would pay 4.5 cents per kWh, would be from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. on all days and during all hours on Saturday, Sunday and July 4. Mid-peak times, during which customers would pay 6.23 cents per kWh, would be from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. On-peak periods, during which customers would pay 8.24 cents per kWh, would be from 1 to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. This program would be in effect for the summer season of June 1 through Aug. 31.
In another change from this year’s program, Idaho Power proposes to limit those who can participate to customers who use 300 kilowatt-hours per month or more.
Idaho Power wants to extend the programs to further evaluate their impacts and benefits and customer retention and to test ongoing demand reduction and load shifting. Idaho Power is phasing in advanced meter reader technology and should soon be able to offer programs like these to a wider segment of its customer base.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is taking comments on whether the pilot programs should be continued. Comments, which must be submitted by no later than May 1, 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-06-05) 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.