Utah Power conservation surcharge delayed
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is approving a 1.5 percent rider on PacifiCorp customer bills to fund energy conservation programs, but wants the company to provide a different array of programs than those it proposed. The surcharge will not be implemented until the commission approves the conservation programs.
PacifiCorp, which does business as Utah Power in eastern Idaho, proposed a 1.5 percent rider to raise about $1.8 million annually to pay for a host of conservation programs. However, the commission said the programs proposed do not provide enough benefit for the residential class.
The commission said it supports the broad concept of demand-side management (DSM) and energy efficiency programs. Cost-effective DSM programs provide benefits even to non-participants, the commission said, because the conservation programs reduce the company’s overall cost of serving its customers. It also benefits all Idaho customers by reducing Idaho’s allocation of PacifiCorp’s six-state system wide power supply costs.
However, the commission said that direct benefits from the programs proposed are disproportionate to the DSM funds collected from each of the residential, irrigation, commercial and industrial customer classes.
The commission said it would approve a 1.5 percent rider when the company proposes a program that is more equitable among the customer classes. “We encourage the company to develop and file this as quickly as possible,” the commission said.
For the average residential customer who uses 790 kilowatt-hours a month, the 1.5 percent DSM rider would add about $1 per month to customer bills.
The $1.8 million generated annually from the rider would go to fund DSM programs designed to offset the growth in demand for new power plants and to reduce the need for Utah Power to acquire power from more expensive sources to meet growing customer demand. The money does not go to increase the company’s earnings.
The programs PacifiCorp had proposed include:
n an irrigation efficiency program to complement an existing irrigation load control program. The program offers irrigators no-cost equipment exchange, equipment testing and financial incentives for energy efficiency measures;
n energy efficiency measures for commercial and industrial customers that include efficient lighting, premium motors and mechanical upgrades associated with heating and cooling;
n a refrigerator-recycling program for residential customers called “See Ya Later Refrigerator.” The program offers incentives to homeowners and landlords to discontinue use of second refrigerators and freezers or replace them with more energy efficient models;
n an increase in money from Utah Power for low-income weatherization program to $150,000 from $100,000 and an increase in the maximum rebate allowed per weatherized home from $1,000 to $1,500;
n revisions to an energy efficiency program for businesses by converting it from a loan-based program to one that includes financial incentives for kilowatt-hours saved.
PacifiCorp estimated all the programs combined would save about 50 megawatts for each of the next three years. One megawatt is enough electricity to power about 750 homes.
A full text of the commission’s order, along with other documents related to this case, are 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 Case No. PAC-E-05-10.