Comments sought on Intermountain Gas plan; Avista plan accepted
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission will take comments through Aug. 30 on a five-year growth plan for Intermountain Gas Co. The Boise-based distributor of natural gas anticipates a 4 percent customer growth rate in its southern Idaho territory from 2007 through 2011.
The commission has already accepted a similar growth plan for Avista Gas, which operates in northern Idaho.
Regulated gas and electric utilities are required to file Integrated Resource Plans or IRPs, to keep the public and the commission apprised of utilities’ plans to meet the demands of growth. The plans, however, are only a strong guideline. Acceptance of the plans does not necessarily mean the commission will approve all the plan’s projects when they come before the commission for ratemaking treatment.
Intermountain Gas serves about 275,800 customers in southern Idaho. The company has customers in 74 communities. Its system includes more than 10,000 miles of transmission, distribution and service lines. In fiscal year 2005, more than 446 miles of distribution and service lines were added to accommodate growth.
Many of the company’s customers are served directly off the Williams Northwest Gas Pipeline that comes into southeastern Idaho from Wyoming and generally follows the Snake River in southern Idaho. However, Intermountain owns several laterals that come off the main Williams pipeline. The three largest are the Idaho Falls, Sun Valley and Canyon County laterals.
The Idaho Falls Lateral, which serves many cities between Pocatello and St. Anthony, will reach a peak day delivery deficit during 2007 and will increase thereafter if adjustments aren’t made such as “looping,” which is increasing capacity by adding a parallel pipe alongside existing pipelines. The company also plans to ask its industrial customers that have the potential to cut their peak consumption by switching to fuel oil to do so during extreme cold temperatures.
The company anticipates peak day delivery deficits by 2009 in the Sun Valley Lateral. Unlike the Idaho Falls Lateral, the industrial load, mainly related to tourism, does not permit switching to alternative fuels. Therefore, the company believes that future upgrades will be needed to the existing pipeline system.
The Canyon County region will experience delivery deficits beginning in 2007 under current conditions. The industrial base there also does not permit fuel switching. Intermountain Gas is exploring optional means of enhancing distribution capability in that region.
Those wishing to submit comments on the Intermountain Gas plan must do so by no later than Aug. 30. 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 (INT-G-06-03) 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 copy of the Intermountain Gas application and exhibits are available on the commission Web site. Click on “File Room,” then “Gas Cases,” and scroll down to INT-G-06-03.
The commission recently accepted Avista Utilities’ gas plan to serve its 68,000 northern Idaho customers. Avista also has customers in Washington and Oregon, totaling 297,000 natural gas customers. Like Intermountain Gas, Avista projects a 4 percent growth rate.
Avista has a diversified portfolio of natural gas supply resources, including owned and contracted storage, firm capacity rights on six pipelines and contracts in place to purchase natural gas from several supply basins.
To respond to the volatility in natural gas markets, Avista said it would procure a portion of its supply as much as three years in advance. Most gas utilities procure no more than one year in advance. Avista plans to purchase one-third of its supply with rolling three-year contracts that will require replacement of 11 percent of its supply with new three-contracts each year.
Avista will also offer conservation and efficiency programs. In Washington and Idaho, demand-side management programs are targeted to reduce demand by more than 1,062,000 therms in the first year. In Oregon, the programs will reduce demand by 441,000 therms in the first year.
Avista conducted a series of six public meetings, inviting a broad spectrum of customers to provide input on its long-range plan.
A complete copy of Avista’s plan is also available on the Web site. Click on “File Room,” then “Gas Cases,” and scroll down to AVU-G-06-02.