Idaho Public Utilities Commission

September 15, 2008

Case No. IPC-E-08-16

Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712

 

PUC taking comments on Idaho Power’s automated meter installation plan

 

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is now taking comments through Dec. 9 on a request by Idaho Power Co. to install advanced metering infrastructure through its southern Idaho service territory over the next three years.

 

Idaho Power estimates the advanced meters will cost $70.1 million, but does not propose to increase rates at this time. The capital costs of the project will be included in base rates as the meters are placed in service. The company is also seeking accelerated depreciation on its existing metering infrastructure.

 

Advanced meters can be read from a remote location, negating the need for an Idaho Power representative to access customer properties. They can provide the company and individual customers with hourly meter readings and inform customers of current electric prices, potentially allowing them to manage their use and reduce their bills.

 

The company states benefits to customers will include 1) reduced operational costs associated with meter reading, 2) improved meter reading accuracy, 3) eliminating the need for Idaho Power employees to access personal property for monthly meter readings, 4) improved outage monitoring, 5) theft detection, 6) disconnecting and reconnecting customers from a remote location saving time and labor, and 7) billing advantages such as fewer estimated bills, less re-billing and more flexible billing schedules.

 

The company proposes to phase-in installation of the advanced meters beginning in January 2009 with the Ontario to Boise region. In 2010, installation would move to the Canyon and Payette county areas and in 2011 further east to the Magic Valley and eastern Idaho.

 

After the Western energy crisis of 2000-01, the commission said advanced metering technology, such as net metering that allows customers who generate their own power to sell power back to the company and time-of-day metering that allows customer to shift use away from peak periods of electrical demand was becoming more necessary. At that time, the commission ordered Idaho Power to evaluate and report on advanced metering technology. In 2002, the commission ordered Idaho Power to complete installation of advanced metering by 2004, but financial and technical problems made it impossible for the company to meet that time frame.

 

 The commission eventually adopted a phased-in implementation and evaluation approach, with advanced meters installed in test areas such as Emmett. In an earlier order the commission stated … “the potential benefits of advanced metering to ratepayers and the company are too great to delay … implementation indefinitely.”

The commission intends to proceed under a modified procedure that allows this case to be handled through written public comments rather than by public hearing. However, comments may request a public hearing.

 

Comments can be submitted 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-08-16) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.

 

A full text of the commission’s order, along with other documents related to this case, is available on the commission’s Web site at www.puc.idaho.gov. Click on “File Room” and then on “Electric Cases” and scroll down to the above case number.