Idaho Power gets year extension of pilot conservation programs
Boise – The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is granting Idaho Power Company’s request to extend for another year 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 commission agreed with the company that the extra year is needed to collect more data and provide further evaluation before the programs can be expanded to serve a larger section of Idaho Power’s territory. “We believe the time-of-use pricing pilots to be important programs with potential benefit to both customers and the company,” the commission said.
Under the Energy Watch Pilot Program, Idaho Power allows volunteers 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 is 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 allows 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 increasing the difference between off-peak and on-peak rates.
In another minor change from last year’s programs, Idaho Power proposed to limit those who can participate to customers who use 300 kilowatt-hours per month or more. The commission said limiting the programs’ availability to customers with the capability to shift loads significant enough to gain valuable statistical information is reasonable.
Idaho Power reports that customers in the Time-of-Day program saved about 5 percent on their bills during last summer 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.
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.
A full text of the commission’s order, along with other documents related to this case, are available on the commission’s Web site at www.puc.idaho.gov. Click on “File Room” and then on “Electric Cases” and scroll down to Case Number IPC-E-06-05.