The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has scheduled a public workshop on Nov. 3 to discuss a possible new mechanism for determining the rates that utilities – and eventually the utility's customers – must pay certain small-power producers.
Currently, the PUC uses costs associated with a surrogate natural-gas-fired plant to determine the avoided-cost rate. However, using a hypothetical natural-gas plant as the surrogate may no longer be appropriate, given the nature of many of the newer Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act projects, which are primarily wind. The operating and generating characteristics of these types of projects may be significant enough to warrant a different or second surrogate to determine avoided cost, according to the PUC.
Earlier this year, PUC staff issued a ‘straw man’ proposal that includes a new wind surrogate and invited comments from interested parties. The PUC has received a number of comments, with wind developers generally opposed to the wind surrogate and utilities generally favoring it.
The workshop will give interested parties an opportunity to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the straw man proposal and to entertain new proposals.