Idaho state regulators reduce renewables integration rates under PURPA

Written By: Jen Neville
January 24, 2018

Idaho state regulators recently approved a Rocky Mountain Power significantly reduce renewables integration rates under PURPA. The new wind integration rate approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission is 57 cents per megawatt-hour (MWh). The previous rate was $3.06 per MWh.

The commission also set the solar integration rate at 60 cents per MWh. The rates apply to facilities that qualify for 20-year contracts under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA). 

Intended to spur the development of domestic energy, PURPA requires regulated utilities to purchase energy from qualifying independent power producers at rates established by state commissions.

In Idaho, facilities smaller than 100 kilowatts and powered by intermittent sources such as wind and solar are eligible for 20-year contracts at the published rate set by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission.

The rate is referred to as the avoided-cost rate because it is intended to be no higher than the rate at which the utility could generate the power on their own, or the rate at which the utility could purchase the energy elsewhere.

The integration rate for solar and wind facilities that qualify for power purchase agreements under PURPA is deducted from the avoided-cost rate paid by the utility.

In their proposal to the commission, Rocky Mountain Power said their analysis had found that the costs of wind energy and their integration had fallen significantly since 2008, when the previous integration rate was set. The company said solar generation on their system has been “insignificant” in the past but is expected to exceed 1,000 megawatts by the end of 2017.

 


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