Commission accepts Idaho Power Co. growth plan
State regulators have accepted a 20-year growth plan for Idaho Power Company, which calls for 1,300 MW of added generation from wind, geothermal, coal and nuclear resources to meet the demands of its growing customer base.
The plan also calls for 187 megawatts of demand reduction through conservation and energy efficiency measures referred to in the industry as demand-side management (DSM) programs. Idaho Power also plans to gain access to an additional 285 megawatts as a result of transmission expansion and upgrades that will bring in more power from the Pacific Northwest.
Acceptance of the plan does not mean the Idaho Public Utilities Commission endorses all elements of the plan nor does it constitute approval of any resource acquisition. The commission requires all regulated electric and gas utilities to file an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) every two years to describe the utilities’ customer base, their current and potential supply side resources, DSM plans and a risk analysis.
The commission said Idaho Power’s 2006 IRP is an improvement from prior filings, particularly in its inclusion of transmission upgrade and expansion as a method to acquire new sources of energy supply. “We are also pleased that the company is expanding its DSM programs and increasing the amount of renewable energy resources in its portfolio,” the commission said.
The commission asked that Idaho Power and the two other major regulated utilities that serve the state – Avista and PacifiCorp – consider jointly filing their IRPs in order to provide the commission with a more regional view for resource planning.
Idaho Power projects its customer base will increase from 455,000 to more than 680,000 over the next 20 years.
The company recently entered into an agreement with the developers of an eastern Oregon wind farm for 100 megawatts to add to its growing wind portfolio. The company has increased its wind portfolio from 2.61 megawatts in 2004 to nearly 400 MW scheduled to be online by the end of 2008.
The plan includes a 250-megawatt coal addition in 2013. Idaho Power said it does not know specifically where this addition will be located, but states that one of its best near-term alternatives is an expansion at the Jim Bridger coal plant near Rock Springs, Wyoming. The plan also anticipates a possible 250 megawatts from a regional facility that would use an advanced clean-coal technology called Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle. IGCC developers have expressed interest in Pocatello and Soda Springs as possible sites for the advanced coal technology. Preliminary results indicate IGCC technology may be viable, but the high initial capital expenditure and unproven technology may be barriers.
Idaho Power recently named U.S. Geothermal Inc. as the successful bidder for an approximate 45.5 MW of geothermal resources from a plant in eastern Oregon and one under construction near Raft River, Idaho. Idaho Power is seeking to add a total of 100 MW of geothermal resources over the next 20 years.
The company also plans to acquire 150 megawatts through the use of combined heat and power, or industrial cogeneration. Many manufacturers, such as lumber plants, produce steam as a byproduct of their manufacturing process and can sell that steam generation to electric utilities.
In 2023, Idaho Power may be able to acquire 250 MW from an anticipated nuclear facility at the Idaho National Laboratory in eastern Idaho.
Several organizations submitted comments for the commission to consider regarding Idaho Power’s IRP.
Citizens Protecting Resources, an organization formed in response to the proposed siting of a large coal plant near Jerome, said the IRP did not include a strong DSM plan and didn’t place enough emphasis on non-hydro renewable resources.
The Northwest Energy Coalition commended the company’s increase use of DSM programs, but expressed concern about the amount of thermal resources that are proposed, such as coal. The coalition said the company should consider more transmission improvements in southern Idaho to accommodate additional wind energy.
The Industrial Customers of Idaho Power urged the commission to reject the plan because of its inclusion of the Evander Andrews natural gas-fired plant near Mountain Home. ICIP said the company should use emergency back-up generators during times of peak demand rather than building additional plants. It also said the company focuses on transmission upgrades in the northwest but does not consider more transmission access to markets east of its service territory.
The Idaho Irrigation Pumpers Association commended the company for a realistic plan and one that included a diverse resource base. It urged the company to continue with is DSM programs for irrigators and other customer classes.
Exergy Development Group of Idaho LLC, which develops wind generation, criticized the plan for focusing too strongly on transmission upgrades to the Pacific Northwest, ignoring development to the east and south. Idaho Power said transmission upgrades to the east have been proposed, but are not finalized.
A copy of the commission’s final order, comments from the groups that participated and Idaho Power’s IRP are available on the commission Web site at www.puc.idaho.gov. Click on the Electric icon, then on “Open Electric Cases,” and scroll down to Case No. IPC-E-06-24.