Idaho Power Co. is proposing a plan to sell the renewable energy certificates (RECs) it earns for its renewable power to other power providers and share the proceeds with customers. However, the plan also gives Idaho Power long-term contractual rights to the credits – sometimes called green tags – if a federal renewable electricity standard is imposed on utilities, according to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
Last year, the PUC directed Idaho Power to sell its 2007 and 2008 RECs and use the $1.6 million to $1.9 million in proceeds to benefit ratepayers. It also directed the company to file a business plan on how it intends to treat RECs sold in 2009 and beyond. The PUC is taking comments on that plan through May 14.
Idaho Power's 101 MW Elkhorn Wind project in Oregon and its 13 MW Raft River geothermal project in south-central Idaho generated more than 320,000 MWh of RECs for Idaho Power in 2007 and 2008.
In January 2009, the PUC granted an Idaho Power request to retire, rather than sell, its RECs in anticipation of federal or state renewable energy mandates. By retiring the RECs, Idaho Power said it could represent to renewable energy certification programs and to customers that it is meeting customer expectations for the increased use of renewable energy.
However, the Industrial Customers of Idaho Power petitioned the commission for reconsideration, arguing the value associated with the RECs belongs to the ratepayers and should be sold to benefit them. The Idaho Conservation League and the Renewable Northwest Project argued that the PUC affirm its original decision to let the utility retire the RECs.
The commission reversed its earlier order and directed the company to sell the RECs. But the order also required the company to submit a business plan on how it intends to treat REC sales in 2009 and beyond.