PUC approves transfer of Rocky Mountain Power customers to Fall River
About 72 households in Teton County that have been electrical customers of Rocky Mountain Power (formerly Utah Power & Light) will become customers of Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc. effective Aug 1.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has approved a petition by Rocky Mountain Power and Fall River Rural Electric to approve the transfer of about half of Rocky Mountain’s customers in Teton County to Fall River. Growth in the Teton County basin is increasing the potential for duplication of facilities, which presents operational issues for both companies.
The transfer includes not only customers on the west side of the valley, but also equipment such as poles and transformers from Rocky Mountain to Fall River, which is headquartered in Ashton.
The transfer does not immediately impact rates because Fall River has agreed to serve the transferred customers under Rocky Mountain’s rate structure for five years. Further, about 22 customers who participated in Rocky Mountain’s Time-of-Day rate structure will be billed under the same structure by Fall River. The Time-of-Day program gives customers reduced rates for shifting electrical use away from peak-use times of the day.
Idaho statutes require that the commission determine the following when considering the sale or transfer of any public utility property: 1) the transaction is consistent with the public interest, 2) rates will not increase because of the transaction and 3) the buyer has the intent and financial ability to operate the property in the public service.
Commission staff said reliability would improve for all customers with the transfer and that Fall River, with 13,000 customers in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, has been providing reliable service to its customers since 1938. Because Fall River is a non-profit electric cooperative, the commission does not regulate it. However, Rocky Mountain Power is an investor-owned utility and is regulated by the commission. It has about 67,000 customers in southeastern Idaho.
Commission staff reviewed the application to ensure it complies with the state’s Electric Suppliers Stabilization Act which is to discourage duplication of facilities, prohibit one utility from “pirating” customers from another, stabilize service territories and promote harmony between electric suppliers.