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Idaho Power, an electricity generator and distributor, has submitted to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) a report outlining the operational impacts associated with integrating intermittent supplies of energy produced at wind power projects with supplies produced by Idaho Power's generation.

The report was prepared with EnerNex Corp., a private wind energy consulting firm based in Knoxville, Tenn. The results of the study indicate that Idaho Power sustains an increased cost by using the company's hydro system as a backup for the integration of wind generation. To offset a portion of these additional costs, the company proposes to pay wind developers $10.72 per MWh less than the current average rate of approximately $64 per MWh for projects coming online in 2008.

In an accompanying IPUC filing, Idaho Power proposed that the commission increase the size of wind projects that qualify for published avoided cost rates under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA). The filing seeks to increase the size from 100 kW to 10,000 average kW (10 average MW) - the same level that is applicable to other PURPA resources - and to decrease the avoided cost rate paid to wind developers by the amount identified in the study for integration costs.

The filing includes a request for the establishment of rules to prevent wind developments larger than 10 MW from artificially restructuring into smaller projects to qualify for the published avoided cost rate designed for projects 10 average MW and smaller, and a request that the rate structure for PURPA qualifying facilities be revised to reflect the difference in value between electricity produced during heavy load hours and light load hours.

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