Idaho Power wants to change way it pays net metering customers
Idaho Power Co. no longer wants to pay full retail price to its “net metering” customers who generate more than they consume.
Residential and small-business customers who participate in net metering have their own small generating projects – such as wind, solar or hydro. The power they generate is offset against their consumption.
Currently, those customers who generate more than they consume are paid the full retail rate for surplus generation. However, Idaho Power claims it is incurring costs providing service to net metering customers and those costs are passed on to other customers. The company says the retail price it currently pays net metering customers is more than the actual value of the generation itself. The utility is proposing that it pay net metering customers 85 percent of the current Dow Jones market price for excess generation. That is the same rate Idaho Power pays to other small-power generators of intermittent or “non-firm” power. Idaho Power contends the power generated by net metering customers is also non-firm and should be treated as such.
The current net metering tariff, called Schedule 84, is available to all customers, but larger customer classes must provide their own meters. Idaho Power’s application also seeks to encourage customers in larger classes to participate in the net metering program by no longer requiring that a separate meter is purchased. The expense of the additional meter can discourage participation in the program, the company claims.
When Idaho Power began the net metering program it recognized that the program would result in “some subsidy” to participating residential and small-business customers. However, the company claims the subsidy has increased as participation in net metering has increased. All costs outside the value of the generation are being shifted to other residential and small-business customers, Idaho Power claims.
Idaho Power believes the primary purpose of net metering is to allow customers to realize the value of their generation by offsetting part or all their consumption. However, the company believes that generation beyond consumption should be viewed differently by offering a rate that is equal to what all non-firm small-power producers get, or 85 percent of market.
Idaho Power suggests that those net metering customers who have generation significantly greater than their consumption participate in programs other than net metering, such as qualifying for the commission’s posted rates under provisions of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, or PURPA.
The commission is seeking written comments on Idaho Power’s application to revise the way in which it pays net metering customers. Those wishing to submit comments must do so by no later than Oct 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-06-17) 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.