Commission rules on Avimor-United Water agreement
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has denied in part and approved in part an application by United Water Idaho Inc. regarding provision of water services to the Avimor development north of Boise.
The commission approved the company’s application to expand its service territory to include Avimor, but denied a Special Facilities Agreement that required United Water to refund Avimor $2.5 million in water transmission expense as new customers are connected. The commission said the agreement is not consistent with United Water’s tariff provisions for construction of special facilities that have been in place since the resolution of litigation regarding customer connection costs in 1997. “Those terms provide, and the Commission always intended, that the requesting developer contribute the transmission and distribution facilities without refund,” the commission said. The commission directed United Water to revise its tariff to make it clear that developers, without refund, contribute transmission and distribution facilities necessary to serve a new development.
The commission recently rejected a similar Special Facilities Agreement between Avimor and Idaho Power Co. regarding the construction of an electric transmission line and substation to the same development. Avimor has petitioned the commission for reconsideration of that May 24 order.
The property owned by Avimor, known as Spring Valley Ranch, includes about 23,000 acres several miles north of Boise. The first phase will be nearly 700 residential and commercial buildings lots on 860 acres. In order for United Water to provide service to the area, it must build 30,500 feet of main water line, a booster station and a 600,000-gallon water storage reservoir.
United Water and Avimor proposed that Avimor would provide $6.3 million in construction costs for the new facilities, but that $4.6 million of that investment would be refunded to Avimor as new customers connect. Costs that would be refunded included $2.5 million for 18,000 feet of an “on-site” 16-inch water transmission main, $788,418 for a storage tank and $1.25 million for a booster pumping station.
Avimor did offer to pay, without refund, $1.9 million for 12,500 feet of “off-site” transmission main leading to the site. However, the commission said the 1997 legal settlement stipulated that developers should pay for all transmission expense and made no distinction between on-site and off-site transmission. The commission said it would consider approving an amended agreement that requires Avimor to contribute all transmission costs but allows expense for the storage tank and booster pumping station to be refunded as new customers connect. Facilities that benefit customers systemwide are considered eligible for refund.
The commission also ruled that before United Water expands its service territory beyond the first phase, it must file an update with the commission that includes the company’s intended source of water supply and associated costs. “We want assurance that future expansion can be done at a reasonable cost,” the commission said.
The commission commended Avimor for “the impressive water conservation measures,” it plans, including the construction of treatment plant capable of recapturing 300,000 gallons of wastewater for irrigation the installation of low water use plumbing fixtures and hot water recirculation pumps in all residential units; and a limit on the use of turf on all lots. The developer will also require drip irrigation for all shrubs and trees. “In our desert environment, the frugal use of water is very important and we are pleased that the developer is making this a priority,” the commission said.
Interested parties may petition the commission for reconsideration by no later than July 10. 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.
A full text of the commission’s order, along with other 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 “Water Cases” and scroll down to Case No. UWI-W-07-01.