The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has decided to leave the eligibility cap under which wind and solar projects can qualify for PUC-published rates at 100 kW, instead of the 10 MW cap that was in place up until Dec. 14, 2010.
Wind developers have preferred to be paid the PUC's published rate by the utilities that buy output from them because the rate is typically more attractive than a rate they would have to otherwise negotiate with utilities, according to the commission.
As a result of the PUC's decision, developers of 12 Idaho Power Co. wind projects and five Rocky Mountain Power projects whose contracts were executed after the Dec. 14, 2010, deadline will not be eligible for published rates. However, the wind projects could still be developed under a rate negotiated between the project developers and the utilities. Ten Idaho Power wind projects that were submitted just before the deadline have already been approved by the PUC.
The PUC said that continuing to allow wind projects larger than 100 kW to be paid the published rate does not benefit ratepayers.
‘If we allow the current trend to continue, customers may be forced to pay for resources at an inflated rate and, potentially, before the energy is actually needed by the utility to serve its customers,’ the PUC said.
While leaving the 100 kW cap in place, the PUC is initiating another proceeding to investigate the methodology used to calculate the avoided-cost rate.