The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has approved an Idaho Power Co. application to hold onto its green tags (i.e., renewable energy credits) rather than sell them on the open market or to other utilities.
Anticipating federal or state legislation that may require utilities to generate a specific amount of energy from renewable sources, Idaho Power asked the commission for authority to retire its green tags so it can represent to renewable energy certification programs and to its customers that it is meeting customer expectations for increased use of renewable energy. Another option is to sell the green tags with the proceeds used to offset customer rates.
However, the commission says any savings in rates for customers through the sale of the green tags ‘in the short term might result in the need for exponentially greater increases in rates in the future’ with the likelihood of federal regulation mandating that a specific amount of generation come from renewable energy sources. If the green tags are sold, Idaho Power cannot count the energy generated from the renewable sources as part of its own renewable generation.
The commission says Idaho Power's application comports with goals cited in the Idaho Energy Plan, adopted in 2007.
‘In particular, retiring the green tags at this time promotes the development of renewable resources, diversifies Idaho Power's generation portfolio and yet preserves the company's ability to meet changes in energy policy,’ according to the commission. Retiring the green tags now does not foreclose the sale of future tags in the event of changes in energy policy, the commission adds.
Idaho Power's Elkhorn Wind project in Oregon and its Raft River geothermal project in south central Idaho generated more than 320,000 MWh of green tags in 2007 and 2008.
SOURCE: Idaho Public Utilities Commission