Idaho Power plans for responsible energy future

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: energy management

IDACORP Inc. principal subsidiary Idaho Power on September 17 announced plans to finalize the 2009 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) by year-end through the collaborative integrated resource planning process connecting Idaho Power resource and planning experts and government, public, customer and environmental organization stakeholders.

"Here at Idaho Power, we continually plan for the future and take steps to position our company to meet upcoming obligations and anticipated regulation while minimizing the impact to our customers and owners," said Mark Stokes, Idaho Power's power supply planning manager. "This is about doing the right thing for our customers and the ongoing financial strength and stability of our company. Our collaborative IRP process guides us in that respect. We are in the process of finalizing the 2009 IRP. This year, we are incorporating additional considerations and requirements into our planning process in light of anticipated regulation, public perception and direct communication with owners, customers and employees."

Idaho Power's 2004 IRP first identified a need for new baseload generation resources. This need was reaffirmed in the 2006 IRP and was subsequently identified as a combined-cycle combustion turbine in the 2008 IRP update, after the company decided against pursuing additional coal-fired generation. With the Idaho Public Utilities Commission decision granting Idaho Power the Certificate for Public Convenience and Necessity, authorizing the construction of the Langley Gulch Power Plant, a component of the IRP is coming to fruition.

"This decision affirms the value of our collaborative resource planning process and is a significant milestone in implementing our resource portfolio to meet future regulatory requirements," added Stokes. "The addition of this dispatchable resource is a key component in our generation portfolio. It is particularly instrumental in paving the way to further implement intermittent renewable resources, such as wind and solar, which we expect to take on increased importance in a carbon-constrained future."

In addition to developing new resources, such as the Langley Gulch Power Plant, Idaho Power's hydroelectric generation facilities continue to be an integral part of the company's resource portfolio.

"Preserving our hydroelectric base isn't just about dams," said Stokes. "Safeguarding our water rights; relicensing and improving operational efficiencies at our facilities; and efforts that keep water in the rivers, such as cloud seeding and water leases, are core to our business and are in our customers' and owners' best interests. Anything we do to preserve and effectively manage water directly ties to our carbon footprint, helping us reduce the intensity of our carbon emissions while preserving rates that are among the lowest in the nation."

In addition to preserving the capability of existing resources, Idaho Power also recognizes the need to add resources and transmission facilities to support increased economic activity and customer use. A significant piece of providing reliable service to customers is securing the necessary resource infrastructure. The ability to permit and site transmission projects and new generation resources is not only critical to meeting customer requirements and the company's government-mandated obligations today, it is a significant consideration in maintaining a balanced resource portfolio and in preparing for future climate change regulation and managing Idaho Power's low emission position.

"Our collaborative IRP process is the proper forum to plan for these issues and the best way for our company to balance goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with reliability, cost and government-mandated obligations," said Stokes. "We see this process as a continuous commitment, and by regularly raising the bar and asking the tough questions our strategy will evolve."

In addition to the continued focus on Idaho Power's industry-leading energy efficiency and demand response programs, included in the 2009 planning process Idaho Power established goals to:

·        Reduce its resource portfolio's average carbon dioxide (CO2) emission intensity for the 2010 through 2013 time period to a level of 10 percent to 15 percent below the company's 2005 CO2 emission intensity of 1,194 pounds CO2/MWh.

·        Analyze within the 2009 IRP process the impacts of anticipated regulation, such as the Waxman-Markey bill (H.R. 2454), on Idaho Power's resource portfolio.

·        Continue investigating a number of resource alternatives for consideration in the 2009 and subsequent integrated resource planning efforts. Activities undertaken or in progress include:

o   Commissioning Black and Veatch to prepare a solar generation feasibility study to provide a current status of solar technology and the associated costs

o   Evaluating new modular nuclear technologies by participating in a regional, multi-utility feasibility study

o   Anticipated participation, along with Idaho's Office of Energy Resources, in a study to determine the feasibility of developing a combined heat and power project in Idaho Power's service area

o   Evaluating the results of the 2009 Wind Request for Proposals released in May 2009. Under this solicitation we are considering the acquisition of up to 150 megawatts of wind generation

IDACORP Inc., Boise, Idaho-based and formed in 1998, is a holding company comprised of Idaho Power Company, a regulated electric utility; IDACORP Financial, a holder of affordable housing projects and other real estate investments; and Ida-West Energy, an operator of small hydroelectric generation projects that satisfy the requirements of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978. IDACORP's origins lie with Idaho Power and operations beginning in 1916. Today, Idaho Power employs 2,050 people to serve a 24,000 square-mile service area in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. With 17 low-cost hydroelectric projects as the core of its generation portfolio, Idaho Power's 487,000 residential, business and agricultural customers pay some of the nation's lowest prices for electricity.

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