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The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC), reversing an earlier decision, has ordered Idaho Power Co. to sell its 2007 and 2008 renewable energy certificates (RECs) and use the proceeds - estimated to be between $1.6 million and $1.9 million - to benefit ratepayers.

Idaho Power's Elkhorn Wind project in Oregon and its Raft River geothermal project in Idaho generated more than 320,000 MWh of RECs for Idaho Power in 2007 and 2008.

In January, the commission granted Idaho Power's request to retire its RECs. Idaho Power wanted to retire the tags in anticipation of a possible federal or state renewable portfolio standard (RPS). By retiring the tags, Idaho Power says it could represent to renewable energy certification programs and to its customers that it is meeting customer expectations for increased use of renewable energy.

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 customers. Further, the industrial customers argued that allowing the utility to retire the tags causes them to lose value in the wholesale market.

The Idaho Conservation League and the Renewable Northwest Project argued that the commission affirms its original decision to let the utility retire the tags.

During reconsideration, Idaho Power modified its request, asking for authority to retire the tags. Banking the tags would allow the company to stockpile tags now, when they are presumably less expensive to acquire, in anticipation of future RPS requirements.

In its order, the commission says it found no compelling evidence that banking the tags will "lessen the company's burden in meeting a federal future standard." Idaho Power's request to bank or shelve the tags rests only on speculation that they may be used in the future, the commission said.

SOURCE: The Idaho Public Utilities Commission


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