Idaho Power Co., a Boise, Idaho-based electric utility, recently filed a petition to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission proposing that wind projects once again qualify for a published rate that is typically higher than market rates when project owners sell their output to Idaho Power. The company is requesting that the current 100 kW limit on wind projects that can qualify for the higher rate be moved back up to 10 MW.
In June of 2005, Idaho Power asked the commission to suspend Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) wind projects until the costs of integrating wind into the company's transmission could be determined. The commission denied the company's request, but agreed to lower the maximum size of wind projects that can qualify for the PURPA rate from 10 MW to 100 kW until an appropriate wind integration cost could be determined.
According to Idaho Power, the utility recently completed a wind integration study and is now asking the commission for a return to the 10 MW size cap if wind developers agree to share in the cost of state-of-the-art wind forecasting services; include a guarantee in future wind contracts that demonstrates projects are mechanically capable of generating at full output during 85% of the hours during a month; and agree to accept a discount off the PURPA rate to account for wind integration costs. Idaho Power is contending that discount should be $10.72 per MWh off the $64 per MWh PURPA rate.
Furthermore, Idaho Power would also agree to remove the "90/110 performance band" that is now required in wind contracts. The requirement stipulated that when output was less than 90% of projections or more than 110% of projections, Idaho Power could pay developers a lesser market-based rate rather than the PURPA rate.