Idaho Public Utilities Commission
Case No. INT-G-09-03, Order No. 31089
June 1, 2010
Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712
Commission OKs ‘snowmelt tariff’ for Intermountain Gas
Intermountain Gas Company has been granted authority to temporarily interrupt service to customers who use snowmelt equipment during periods when natural gas is in short supply. New residential and commercial customers who have snowmelt equipment would receive a discounted rate in exchange for their service being interrupted. Existing customers can volunteer to receive the lower rate in exchange for their willingness to have service interrupted.
Natural-gas fired snow-melting equipment, installed under driveways and on rooftops, uses an inordinate amount of natural gas compared to more conventional uses. During days when natural gas is at peak use, snow-melt use competes with other customers for the finite amount of available natural gas than can flow through Intermountain’s distribution system, potentially degrading service to other customers. System expansion to serve the increased load for snowmelt customers could substantially increase costs and, thus, rates for all customers.
After taking customer comments and also conducting a workshop, the commission is granting Intermountain Gas’ request. “By making snowmelt service interruptible, future system expansions to serve this load can be avoided and snowmelt service can occur when system capacity is available,” the commission said. The commission also said the company should “actively promote and market its interruptible tariffs as a conservation measure in order to maximize participation among existing snowmelt customers.”
There should be a minimum of two hours’ notice before interrupting a snowmelt customer’s service, the commission said. In addition, the company must keep affected customers apprised of when service is expected to be restored.
An on-off switch will be located at an outdoor perimeter site that is easily accessible to Intermountain Gas personnel, which will negate the need to enter a customer’s home. In the future, remote technology should be available that would negate the need for the on-off switch at each site.
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 “Gas Cases” and scroll down to INT-G-09-03.