- The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has denied Idaho Power’s request to temporarily suspend its obligation under the federal Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) to sign the “dozens” of new solar contracts in the 10 megawatt to 20 megawatt range that have been rushed in to avoid a coming interconnection fee.
- Idaho Power is required under PURPA to purchase generation from qualifying small-power producers at negotiated rates approved by state regulators but the utility wants to delay adding solar until its study on the costs for integrating solar into its grid is completed in mid-June.
- Idaho Power’s request to delay adding as much as 500 megawatts of solar capacity was denied because, the commission said, because the utility’s claim of an “imminent crisis” is in fact “of the company’s own making” – but the commission agreed with Idaho Power that there is a cost for integrating solar and recommended future contracts include a discounted price to solar developers to protect ratepayers.
The regulators’ decision does not affect Idaho Power’s roughly 400 net metered rooftop solar customers or the state’s controversial net energy metering provision.
The commission directed the utility to complete its cost of integration study “as soon as possible” and suggested that, until then, Idaho Power and solar developers include a “placeholder” for a solar integration charge when they negotiate contracts.
Wind developers in Idaho pay an integration charge of $6.50 per megawatt-hour.