Utility Seeks Agreement For 80 MW Wind Project In Idaho

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is taking comments through Nov. 19 on a request by Idaho Power Co. to enter into a sales agreement with Seattle-based Ridgeline Energy for its 44-turbine, 80 MW Rockland Wind Project.

The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) project has a scheduled operation date of Dec. 31, 2011. The proposed agreement has unique characteristics because of its size, according to the PUC. All Idaho Power PURPA wind projects to date are 10 MW or smaller, which is as large as a project can be for developers to be paid an avoided-cost rate that is determined and published by the PUC.

Because Idaho Power customers ultimately pay for the power generated by PURPA projects, it is not in the public's interest for the PUC to approve sales agreements that result in customers paying more for power that could have been generated or purchased elsewhere at a lower cost, the commission says.

The negotiated levelized energy price in the 25-year agreement is $71.29/MWh, according to Idaho Power's application – lower than the published avoided-cost rate of $75.88/MWh for projects 10 MW or smaller.

The proposed agreement contains financial damage and security provisions for the benefit of customers in the event of the project's default or failure to meet its completion date, as well as a mechanical availability guarantee.

The developer would retain the renewable energy credits (RECs) for the first 10 years, which will help offset the development cost. Idaho Power would keep the RECs for the final 15 years when the utility may have to comply with federal or state renewable portfolio standards.

SOURCE: Idaho Public Utilities Commission

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