IDAHO PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION

Case No. IPC-E-06-34 and -35

February 20, 2007

Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339

Website: www.puc.idaho.gov

 

Agreements approved for Elmore County wind projects

 

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has approved agreements between two Elmore County wind projects and Idaho Power Co.

 

The agreements are with Bennett Creek Windfarm LLC and Hot Springs Windfarm LLC. The developer of both projects is Glenn Ikemoto of Energy Vision LLC, based in Piedmont, Calif.

 

Both projects include 12 wind turbines that will deliver an average 10 megawatts per month. The maximum output of the projects is 19.8 MW. Under the terms of the agreement, Idaho Power may accept energy delivered in excess of the average 10 MW per month but will not pay for it.

 

Both projects are Qualified Facilities under the provisions of the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) passed by Congress during the energy crisis of the late 1970s. PURPA requires electric utilities to offer to buy power produced by small power producers or cogenerators who obtain Qualifying Facility (QF) status. The rate to be paid project developers, called an avoided cost rate, is determined and published by state commissions. The avoided cost rate is to be equal to the cost the electric utility avoids if it would have had to generate the power itself or purchase it from another source.

 

In August 2005 the commission reduced the size of the projects that can qualify for an avoided-cost rate from 10 average MW to 100 kilowatts. However, both the Bennett Creek and Hot Springs projects were underway before the commission made the change and are thus grandfathered from the lower size limit.

 

Both projects, if approved, are scheduled to be operating by Dec. 31. The agreements do include provisions that require the projects to pay Idaho Power damages if the projects come on line after Dec. 31. Commission staff noted that at least six recent small-wind projects have failed to meet contractural on line dates.

 

The commission disagreed with a commission staff recommendation that the contract rates be adjusted downward if the wind projects, which have not yet signed an interconnection agreement with Idaho Power, request non-firm transmission. The wind projects objected, maintaining those conditions have not been required in other PURPA projects and that the projects fully intend to seek firm transmission service. The commission said it finds it reasonable to approve the agreements without conditions related to transmission service.

 

A full text of the commission's orders, along with other documents related to this case, are available on the commissions Web site at www.puc.idaho.gov. Click on File Room and then on Electric Cases and scroll down to Case Number IPC-E-06-34 (Hot Springs Wind Farm LLC) and IPC-E-06-35 (Bennett Creek Windfarm LLC).