Letters from the West

Idaho Power asks regulators to adjust rates upward

Idaho Power wants regulators to approval two annual rate adjustments that will show up on your bill if approved.

The utility recently filed its annual power cost adjustment proposal and its fixed cost adjustment, which together would raise rates to residential and small business customers by 2.18 percent. Idaho Power and its shareholders don’t profit from either of these adjustments.

A residential customer, who uses the company's average of 1,050 kilowatt-hours per month, would pay $1.77 a month more if both adjustments are approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission as proposed.

It's taking written comments on both applications.  If customers request to attend a workshop conducted by commission staff, one or more workshops may be scheduled.

The power cost adjustment is based on the factors beyond the control of the investor-owned public utility. These include changes in the Snake River's streamflow, a public resource, and the market prices of fuel, power, transmission and the revenue it gets from selling power.

The fixed cost adjustment takes away the disincentive to Idaho Power to invest in energy efficiency, which today is usually the lowest cost power available. Idaho recovers the fixed costs for its transmission lines and power plants even when consumption drops. So last year customers got a 27 cent decrease in this adjustment while this year the utility is seeking an increase to cover its costs.

Idaho Power's 30 energy efficiency programs not only benefit the people and companies that participate but all its customers, said Gene Fadness, a commission spokesman. By showing it will recover these costs it reduces its overall risk, keeping its credit rating up and borrowing costs lower, which also benefits customers. 

"Without those programs in place and the opportunity for the company to recover its fixed costs, energy bills would be even higher," he said.

The commission is accepting public comment on the FCA proposal through May 8 and on the PCA proposal through May 16.  Go to www.puc.idaho.gov.