Irrigators May Pay Anyway

Published online: Nov 14, 2001
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>Irrigators who voluntarily agreed not to run pumps last summer to conserve electrical energy may now be included in efforts for Idaho Power Company to recoup its losses after expected high wholesale prices did not materialize.

Idaho Power Co. asked the Idaho Public Utilities Commission for more than $100 million the company incurred in implementing two conservation programs. They asked that they be included in the company's annual power cost of adjustment next spring.

If the IPC approves that $100 million as part of the company's annual power cost adjustment, that amount will be considered for recovery from Idaho Power customers next year.

The power cost adjustment is a rate adjustment mechanism that annually increases or decreased customer rates to account for above normal or below normal costs of supplying power.

The company claims to have incurred those costs from two load reduction programs, one with irrigation customers and the other with Astaris, a Pocatello-based phosphorous plant.

Last May, the Commission approved an Idaho Power proposal to pay 429 irrigators 15 cents for each kWh saved from irrigators who agreed to save at least 100,000 kWh. The company claims cost of the irrigation program is $58.6 million to date.

The Commission will proceed under a modified procedure that doesn't include a public hearing unless a sufficient number of written comments are received requesting a public hearing. Comment deadline is Nov. 29.

If such an increase is approved, it will erode the irrigators' payback, and still cost them for the crop they did not grow.