Hearings set for Idaho Power rate case
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission will conduct three hearings across southern Idaho later this month regarding Idaho Power Company’s proposed electric rate increase.
Hearings are scheduled for Jan. 23 in Boise, Jan. 29 in Chubbuck and Jan. 31 in Twin Falls.
The proposed increase varies for customer class. The average increase for all customers classes is 10.35 percent.
For residential customers, the proposed increase is 4.5 percent. The company is proposing a 20 percent increase for the irrigation class, 15 percent for industrial and small-commercial customers and 13.1 percent for large-commercial customers.
If Idaho Power’s request were granted in full, the average non-summer monthly bill for a residential customer who uses 1,050 kWh per month would increase from $64.42 to $67.22. An average summer bill would increase from $69.91 to $72.65.
The hearings will provide an opportunity for Idaho Power customers and other interested parties to testify before the three commissions who will decide the case. There is no presentation from the company or from the commission at the hearings. The only purpose of the hearings is to allow the commissioners an opportunity to hear from customers.
The schedule for the hearings, all of which begin at 7 p.m., is as follows:
Wednesday, Jan. 23 in Boise at the PUC hearing room, 472 W. Washington St., Boise.
Tuesday, Jan. 29 at the Chubbuck City Council Chambers, 5160 Yellowstone Ave., Chubbuck.
Thursday, Jan. 31 at the Twin Falls City Council Chambers, 305 Third Avenue East, Twin Falls.
Commission staff conducted a thorough audit and examination of Idaho Power’s request and filed its comments on Dec. 10, recommending an average 2.8 percent increase. Idaho Power filed rebuttal comments on Jan. 7.
Other parties, who are intervenors in the case, have also filed comments and rebuttal comments. They include the Department of Energy (representing the INL site in eastern Idaho and Mountain Home Air Force Base), the Idaho Irrigation Pumpers Association, the Industrial Customers of Idaho Power, Micron and the Kroger Company, which does business in southern Idaho as Fred Meyer and Smith’s Food and Drug.
Idaho Power claims it must increase its annual revenue by nearly $64 million to recover more than $200 million investment in 650 miles of new distribution and transmission lines and 10 new substations. In addition, the company claims more than $80 million investment for maintenance to existing transmission and distribution.
The commission has the authority to accept, deny or modify the company’s proposal. State statute requires that regulated electric utilities be allowed to recover all prudently incurred expenses in addition to a reasonable rate of return, but enough to attract capital investment in new transmission, distribution and generation. When the commission denies cost recovery to a utility, it must be able to legally demonstrate why the utility’s costs were not prudently incurred or in the best interest of customers. All commission decisions can be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Idaho Power last filed a rate case in 2005, when it sought 7.8 percent and, after a settlement of the parties in the case, received 3.2 percent.
Comments from commission staff, the company and all the intervenors can be read on the commission’s 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-07-08. All documents related to the case are also available for public inspection at the commission offices at 472 W. Washington St. in Boise.