Idaho Public Utilities Commission

Case No. IPC-E-08-23, Order Nos. 30686, 30694

December 11, 2008

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

Website: www.puc.idaho.gov

 

Expanded irrigation program expected to reduce electrical demand

 

State regulators are being asked to approve an expanded program for irrigators that allows them to get credits on their bills when they agree to turn off their pumps during hot summer days when electrical demand is highest and most expensive. A separate, but related, issue is how the estimated $7 million in program costs will be recovered.

 

Idaho Power, the Idaho Irrigation Pumpers Association and staff from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission are asking the commission to approve a settlement that expands Idaho Power’s already existing Irrigation Peak Rewards Program. The commission is taking comments on the proposed expanded program through Dec. 17.

 

In the related matter, Idaho Power is asking that the costs for the program be recovered from all ratepayers through the annual Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) process rather than through the Demand Side Management Rider that currently appears on customer bills. The rider is currently represents about 2.5 percent of the energy portion of customer bills. Idaho Power maintains that if the cost of the irrigation program is added to the rider, the rider will need to be increased to about 4 percent. Anticipated cost of the irrigation program is $6.7 million in 2009 and is expected to increase to about $10.8 million in 2011.

 

The commission has set a deadline of Dec. 17 for those who may want to intervene in the case addressing how the program, if approved, will be funded. Later a procedural schedule will be established that will include public comment and may include hearings. Interested parties can petition the commission to intervene in the case for the purpose of presenting evidence and cross-examining witnesses. Those who choose not to intervene will be afforded an opportunity to provide written comment at a later date.

 

The parties to the settlement maintain that all customers will benefit from the expanded program because the costs for the program will be lower than the cost of serving the entire irrigation load if it were not curtailed. The program, if approved, is expected to provide an overall peak reduction of about 144 megawatts. “Peak” times, for purposes of the program, are between June 15 and July 31. It is during those times of heaviest demand, due primarily to irrigation and to residential and commercial air conditioning, that power is most expensive.

 

The expanded program, provided only to irrigation customers who volunteer, would allow small and larger irrigation operations to participate. The current program is limited to pumps having a cumulative horsepower rating of 75 or greater.

 

The proposed expanded program also adds three “dispatchable interruption” options to the currently available “timer” option.

 

Under the dispatchable interruption options, the company would interrupt service from a remote location to specified pumps any weekday between the hours of 2 and 8 p.m. during the program season of June 15 to July 31. Interruptions may last up to four hours per day and will not exceed 15 hours a calendar week and 60 hours a season. The company will provide notice of service interruptions to participating irrigators. One option, generally for smaller-sized operations, includes a one-way load control device operated remotely by the company. A second option allows for a two-way communication device that will provide the company and the customer remote control and monitoring of irrigation pumps. A third option is intended primarily for larger irrigators having more than one pump and at least 1,000 cumulative horsepower.

 

Under the time option, the company installs a timed-based load control device on customers’ pumps. The timers will be set to interrupt specified pumps on a designated weekday or days selected by the customer.

 

Customers who participate would receive a credit applied to monthly bills for June and July. The amount of the credit varies according to the option the customers choose and the amount of interruption agreed to.

 

To read more details about the program, to comment or to intervene, access 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-08-23. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.