Idaho Public Utilities Commission
Case No. IPC-E-08-24, Order No. 30701
December 26, 2008
Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712
Idaho Power wants to retire, rather than sell, green tags
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is taking comments through Jan. 8 on an Idaho Power Co. proposal that would allow the company to “retire” its green tags rather than sell them.
A green tag, or Renewable Energy Credit, is issued to each utility for every megawatt-hour of electricity generated by an eligible renewable energy resource. An active market exists for the purchase and sale of green tags.
Idaho Power’s Elkhorn Wind project in Oregon and its Raft River geothermal project in south-central Idaho have generated more than 320,000 MWh of green tags in 2007 and 2008. Idaho Power wants to hold on to those green tags so it can represent to its customers that it is meeting customer expectations for increased use of renewable energy.
Standards established by Green-E Energy, the nation’s leading independent certification and verification program for renewable energy, say that green tags sold by utilities from a renewable project cannot be counted twice – by the utility doing the selling and the purchaser. Thus, if Idaho Power sells its green tags it can no longer represent to customers that they are receiving the benefits of those renewable energy projects that carry the green tags. According to Idaho Power, the Green-E standards even prohibit the utility from using visuals of its wind or geothermal projects in charts, graphs or line art as part of the green resources delivered to customers if the green tags that accompany those projects are sold.
Idaho Power acknowledges that Idaho, unlike many other states, does not require its regulated utilities to generate a certain amount of its power from renewable sources. However, retaining the green tags would allow Idaho Power to satisfy any future state or federal laws imposing renewable portfolio standards, the company claims.
Idaho Power has sold its surplus of sulfur emissions credits in a market program that is similar to the sale of green tags. Earlier this year, some $16 million in revenue the company acquired from the sale of its surplus SO2 credits, was applied against the Power Cost Adjustment, lowering the surcharge assessed customers. In 2007, about $70 million in sales from SO2 credits was applied against the PCA.
The commission plans to handle this request in a modified procedure that uses written comments rather than conducting a hearing, unless customer comments can demonstrate a need for a public hearing. 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-08-24) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.