Idaho Public Utilities Commission

IPC-E-09-08, Order No. 30761 and Case No. IPC-E-08-11, Order No. 30760

April 1, 2009

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

Website: www.puc.idaho.gov

 

Utility reports more emissions credits; proceeds from previous credits used to expand energy efficiency education

 

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is seeking public comment through April 17 on how revenue from Idaho Power Company’s sale of sulfur dioxide emission allowances might best benefit customers.

 

Idaho Power earned about $5.3 million from the sale of the allowances during 2008 and part of 2009, after deducting brokerage fees. At least 90 percent of the revenue from those sales will go to ratepayers.

 

In 2007 and 2008, proceeds from the sale of emission allowances were deducted from the Idaho Power’s annual Power Cost Adjustment (PCA), reducing the size of that surcharge for customers. The commission late last week concluded a case that directs a portion the 2008 adjustment – $500,000 – to an expanded energy education program in Idaho Power’s territory.

A 1990 amendment to the Clean Air Act established a national program for reducing acid rain. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) are the primary causes of acid rain.  In the United States, about two-thirds of all SO2 and one-fourth of all NOx comes from thermal (coal and natural gas) electric generating plants. Idaho Power has an ownership interest in three coal-fired plants: Jim Bridger in Wyoming, North Valmy in Nevada and Boardman in Oregon.

Under the federal program, thermal power plant owners are issued limited allowances for their plants’ sulfur dioxide emissions based on a specific plant’s past emissions and a nationwide cap placed on the total amount of SO2 that can be emitted. Each allowance authorizes the utility to emit one ton of SO2.  At the end of each year, a utility generating unit must hold allowances equal to its allotted annual SO2 emissions.  A utility that holds over its annual requirement is considered to have surplus allowances that can be sold on the open market or through auctions sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Idaho Power’s report merely notes that the company has accrued SO2 credits but does not recommend a particular disposition or ratemaking treatment for the funds.

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-09-08) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.

 

In a related case, the commission chose a modified version of a proposal by Idaho Power as the best use of $500,000 for energy efficiency education. In the 2008 emissions credits case, the commission agreed with a recommendation from the Idaho Energy Education Project that a portion of $19.6 million in emissions credits be used for energy education. Proposals for an education program came from IEEP, Idaho Power Co. and a joint proposal by the Office of Energy Resources and the State Department of Education.

 

The commission adopted the Idaho Power proposal, saying it is more focused on schools within its service territory and has smaller overhead and administrative costs.

 

Idaho Power’s proposal includes expanding its existing program of energy education by increasing the number of energy audits for homes and schools as well as follow-up discussion of those audits.

 

Idaho Power will distribute classroom energy kits to students to take home. Students will be taught how to read meters, including advanced meters that are being installed throughout Idaho Power’s territory. With meters the students take home, they will be able to calculate the energy use of home appliances. Students will also be invited to participate in audits of school buildings, including making recommendations for efficiency measures.

 

The commission rejected a portion of Idaho Power’s proposal to add two more solar projects to the two existing projects in the Solar 4R Schools program. The commission said the $75,000 allocated for those projects would be better used in the home and school energy efficiency components of the program.

 

The commission also directed Idaho Power to establish an advisory board to implement the energy education proposal. Its members will include some of the parties who participated in the case. The board will also assist Idaho Power in preparing a final report to the commission after the two-year project is complete.

 

Interested parties can read the proposals and more information about the case by accessing the commission 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-08-11.