Staying power

Control room operators monitor the operation of the coal-powered plant in 2009 near Boardman, Ore. The plant, partly owned by Idaho Power, has been decommissioned.

Base rates Idaho Power customers pay this year will be slightly lower as a result of two decisions by state utility regulators.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission in December approved rate applications related to north-central Oregon’s coal-fired Boardman Power Plant, which was closed last fall to reduce pollution. The company had a 10% interest in the plant.

Idaho Power spokesman Jordan Rodriguez said the net impact on irrigators is a 0.04% decrease in rates.

The Boardman plant opened in 1980. Idaho Power from 2012 to 2020 accounted for actual and anticipated costs of additions, decommissioning and salvage.

PUC said it approved an average 0.33% reduction in rates across all customer classes, as a result of this “balancing account” process.

Idaho Power in a separate filing sought to increase collection of the energy-efficiency rider, which the PUC created to fund demand-side management, from 2.75% of customer base rates to 3.1%. The company said the application intended to closely match foregone revenue from Boardman.

The commission approved the rider application, which it said means the average residential customer using 950 kilowatt-hours per month would see an approximately 29-cent increase in the monthly bill.

Considering the approval of both Idaho Power applications, the average residential customer’s bill will decrease by 2 cents per month, the PUC said.

Rodriguez said the company wants to keep rates affordable, “especially during these challenging times of the pandemic. We are happy to see it was an overall decrease for people, even if it is a small one.”

Irrigation rates may be impacted by the annual power-cost adjustment Idaho Power plans to file with the PUC in mid-April, he said. Any resulting changes would take effect June 1.

That adjustment reflects annual fluctuations in power-supply costs, which can be affected by water supplies, market energy prices, and prices for coal and natural gas. Idaho Power forecasts its supply costs. PUC then reconciles the anticipated and actual costs.

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