Commission: Customers will benefit from increase in efficiency rider
Customers of Rocky Mountain Power in eastern Idaho will pay more for a rider on customer bills to fund an expansion of the utility’s energy efficiency programs. The increase in the rider, from 1.5 percent to 3.72 percent, is about $1.56 per month more for an average residential customer.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved the increase as one that will be financially beneficial to customers in the long-term. “We find that demand-side management, conservation, and energy efficiency measures continue to be the least-cost resources that utilities can acquire to serve new load,” the commission said.
PacifiCorp, the parent company of Rocky Mountain Power, anticipates a shortage of energy resources to serve peak loads this summer. By implementing programs funded by the rider, the company estimates it will save 13,140 megawatt-hours per year. At the former 1.5 percent, the rider funded programs that saved about 8,000 MWh during 2007.
While those customers who directly participate in the conservation programs will benefit the most, “all customers, including those with fixed and limited income, will benefit from deferring the cost of new supply-side resources,” the commission said. Further, Idaho’s share of system supply costs in PacifiCorp’s six-state territory will decrease from expanded conservation programs.
Revenue collected from the rider must go directly to fund and administer energy efficiency programs and cannot be used for other purposes. The enhanced energy efficiency programs will offer information, services and cash incentives to help customers install energy efficient equipment or make permanent operational changes to reduce consumption and save money.
The commission directed the company to file a report each year on May 1 outlining the programs and demonstrating their cost-effectiveness. The commission also directed the company to provide the information necessary to conduct a prudency review of the costs and expenses related to the program during the company’s next general rate case. “Costs imprudently incurred will not be paid by customers,” the commission said.
The Northwest Energy Coalition filed comments in support of the filing. NWEC contends PacifiCorp has been underfunding and underachieving energy savings and believes the time is ripe for a significant expansion of effort. The commission should make it clear, NWEC said, that utility performance not be measured on expenditure of funds, but on the actual energy savings acquired.
Rocky Mountain Power proposes these changes:
n Expanding the FinAnswer Express program, which provides incentives for commercial and industrial customers in efficient lighting, premium motors and mechanical upgrades to heating and cooling systems. Both new construction and retrofit projects are eligible. Rocky Mountain Power reports there is a waiting list of business customers wanting to participate.
n Adding the Energy FinAnswer program to its Idaho jurisdiction. Rocky Mountain Power, which operates as PacifiCorp in five other Western states, offers this program in other states. It would provide incentives and honorariums to builders of new construction projects that exceed current Idaho energy code by at least 10 percent.
n Modifying and updating the Irrigation Energy Savers program, which helps irrigators with system upgrades, including the installation of frequency drives on pumps that help them to operate more efficiently.
n Modifying the Home Energy Savings program to increase participation and align incentive levels with Idaho markets. The program provides incentives for residential customers for more efficient use of washing machines, dishwashers, water heaters, lighting, evaporative cooling, insulation and heat pumps.
Other programs funded by the rider that will continue without change are Refrigerator Recycling, Low-Income Weatherization Services and the Irrigation Load Control Credit Rider.
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 Case No. PAC-E-08-01.
Interested parties may petition the commission for reconsideration by no later than May 21. Petitions for reconsideration must set forth specifically why the petitioner contends that the order is unreasonable, unlawful or erroneous. Petitions should include a statement of the nature and quantity of evidence the petitioner will offer if reconsideration is granted.
Petitions can be delivered to the commission at 472 W. Washington St. in Boise, mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID, 83720-0074, or faxed to 208-334-3762.