Unique development plans to use 75 percent less energy
Idaho Power Co. and C-Squared Development, LLC are asking state regulators for an exemption from a rule that prohibits using a master meter (rather than individual meters) for a multi-occupant residential and commercial building planned for downtown Boise.
C-Squared proposes to build a 103-unit residential tower with 75,000-square feet of office and 20,000 square feet of retail space at Sixth and Front streets. The unique mixed-use development plans to use central, rather than individual, heating and cooling systems designed to be energy efficient. Because they are centrally controlled, users are less able to individually control electric use.
The development aims to reduce energy use to 75 percent below engineering standards by providing the following:
n A geothermal heat source provided by the City of Boise Geothermal Heating District;
n A central system for hot water in the residential tower by using solar energy to preheat the water and geothermal energy to bring it to a suitable temperature;
n A central, indirect evaporative cooling air system and heat pumps to reduce energy use for cooling the office portion of the development by about 75 percent;
n A central hydronic loop system to provide both heating and cooling energy to the residential portion of the building, reducing the overall energy consumption of the individual heat pumps in the residential units;
n Transformers and bus ducts closer to users, eliminating more than 2.5 miles of large diameter wire and conduit in the building and;
n The integration of up to 200 kilowatts of solar power electricity.
In nearly all cases, Idaho Public Utilities Commission rules require individual meters in multi-occupant residential and commercial buildings because 1) when tenants are responsible for paying their own electric bills they waste less electricity, 2) consumers are better served by a direct customer relationship with the utility than by discussing utility costs with a landlord and 3) it is inequitable for electric consumers to pay more or less than the cost of electricity than they actually consume.
However, the commission does not flatly prohibit master-metering if energy-efficient centrally supplied space and water heating and air conditioning make it more economical for both landlords and residents.
The developer of C-Squared, Gary Christensen, also designed Boise’s Banner Bank building to use 50 percent less energy than allowed under current energy codes.
The commission will take comments on the application by Idaho Power Co. and C-Squared Development through June 21. 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-07-12) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.