BPA reduces credit available to Idaho customers
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is taking public comment on an application by PacifiCorp, which does business as Rocky Mountain Power in eastern Idaho, to reduce the size of a credit received by residential and small-farm customers. According to Rocky Mountain, the reduction in the size of the BPA’s Residential Exchange Credit, if approved, would increase the average monthly residential bill of a home using 800 kWh per month by about $2.
In 2004, PacifiCorp and several other Northwest utilities entered into a five-year agreement with the Bonneville Power Administration that establishes the credit for October 2006 through October 2011. BPA reduced the amount of the credit available to Rocky Mountain’s Idaho customers by $3.8 million. Rocky Mountain passes through to customers all of the credit it receives from BPA, so changes in the credit by BPA do not increase or decrease Rocky Mountain’s revenues.
For residential customers, the credit is now about 2 cents per kWh subtracted from an overall winter rate of about 8 cents per kWh and a summer rate of 10.38 cents per kWh. Approval of this application by Rocky Mountain Power would reduce the residential credit to 1.68 cents per kWh. For small-farm irrigation customers the credit is currently 3.15 cents per kWh and would be reduced to 2.64 cents per kWh.
The Bonneville Power Administration, headquartered in Portland, is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Energy. BPA serves the Pacific Northwest through operating an extensive electricity transmission system and marketing wholesale electrical power at cost from federal dams, one nuclear plant and other non-federal hydroelectric and wind energy generation facilities. The Northwest Power Act of 1980 required that residential and small-farm customers in the Northwest share in the benefits of the federal hydroelectric projects located in the region. Regional utilities sell BPA an amount of power equal to their residential and small-farm load at their average system cost in exchange for federal electric power, and pass on the cost benefits to their residential and small-farm customers in the form of lower retail rates. While publicly owned utilities, such as municipal and rural cooperatives take their benefits in the form of power, customers of investor-owned utilities, such as Rocky Mountain Power, receive a monetary benefit in the form of a credit on their electric bills. That credit is periodically adjusted to reflect changes in the cost of power generation and wholesale market prices for power.
Rocky Mountain Power states that as of October 2006, its Idaho balancing account reflected a surplus of $7.2 million. That means Rocky Mountain Power paid out $7.2 million less in benefits to its Idaho residential and small-farm customers than it received from BPA. Rocky Mountain Power is proposing to ease the customer impact of the reduction in the benefit by applying $1 million of the $7.2 million surplus to its Residential Exchange Program account. It is also proposing that certain long-term care facilities by eligible to receive the credit.
Those wishing to submit comments must do so by no later than Feb. 8. 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 (PAC-E-07-01) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.
A full text of the commission’s order, along with other documents related to this case, are available on the commission’s Web site. Click on “File Room” and then on “Electric Cases” and scroll down to the above case number.