Wind developer asks commission ruling on transmission expenses
A Magic Valley wind developer is questioning Idaho Power Company’s intent to charge him and other independent, small-power producers for up to $60 million in transmission upgrades. Jared Grover, the developer of the Cassia Gulch Wind Park and Cassia Wind Farm, claims Idaho Power wants to assess most of a $60 million transmission upgrade in the Twin Falls area to independent small-power producers. That added cost threatens the economic viability of the wind projects, Grover maintains.
Grover is asking the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to determine whether the cost of a possible upgrade to an 138-kilovolt transmission system should be borne by all Idaho Power ratepayers, not just small-power producers. Idaho Power claims if the upgrade is completed it will be because is needs to integrate the possible 200 megawatts of added generation planned from small-power producers.
Cassia Wind Farm is a 10.5-MW facility with five, 2.1 MW turbines. Cassia Gulch Wind Park is an 18.9-MW project that will include nine, 2.1-MW turbines. Both projects, in the Bell Rapids area near Hagerman, are slated to be online by Dec. 31. Grover is not disputing developers paying for new feeder lines and substations to interconnect with Idaho Power’s grid, but says the developers should not have to finance upgrades to the “backbone” of Idaho Power’s transmission system. Grover is asking for expedited treatment because turbine costs are increasing rapidly and further delay could impact anticipated delivery of the turbines this fall.
Noting that a commission decision could impact all of Idaho’s regulated electric utilities and independent developers, the commission is seeking public comment through Oct. 27. The commission will determine at a later date whether a formal hearing is required.
Those wishing to submit comments can do so by accessing the commission’s homepage at www.puc.idaho.gov and clicking on "Comments & Questions." Fill in the case number (IPC-E-06-21) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.
This case is not related to a 2005 case, IPC-E-05-22, that will determine how integration costs from wind generation should be treated in calculating the rates to be paid wind developers. That case is still open.
A full text of the commission’s order, along with other documents related to IPC-E-06-17, 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.