Idaho Public Utilities Commission

Case No. IPC-E-10-19

September 17, 2010, Order No. 32068

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

Website: www.puc.idaho.gov

 

Commission approves first solar PURPA project

 

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has approved a sales agreement between Idaho Power Co. and Grand View Solar PV One, the utility’s first PURPA agreement with a solar power project.

 

The project, 16 miles west of Mountain Home, is a qualifying facility under the provisions of PURPA, the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978. PURPA requires electric utilities to offer to buy power produced by qualifying small-power producers or cogenerators. The rate to be paid PURPA project developers, called an “avoided cost rate,” is determined and published by state commissions. The avoided cost rate is to be equal to the cost the electric utility avoids if it would have had to generate the power itself or purchase it from another source.

 

Idaho caps the size of projects that can qualify for the published avoided-cost rate at 10 MW. Even though the Grand View Solar project capacity is 20 megawatts, the project is not expected to exceed 10 average megawatts on a monthly basis given the fact that solar power cannot be generated around-the-clock. Should the project exceed 10 average megawatts, Idaho Power will accept the energy but will not be required to pay for it.

 

The sales agreement is for 20 years with a scheduled online date of Jan. 1, 2011. The agreement is “non-levelized,” meaning the price for the electricity generated gradually increases through the life of the contract. The rate is $77.77 per megawatt-hour in 2011 escalating to $128.31 per MWh in 2031. That rate is adjusted for heavy- and light-load seasons as well as heavy- and light-load hours. The planned monthly output for the project varies from 1,326 megawatt-hours in January to 4,816 megawatt-hours in July.

 

Idaho Power has a number of net metering agreements with customers who own small primarily residential solar projects, but this project is the first solar sales agreement with a larger provider.

 

The manager of the Grand View Solar PV One project is Robert Paul of Deseret Hot Springs, Calif.

 

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 Case Number IPC-E-10-19.