Big Idaho utility signs wind energy deal

By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho (BestGrowthStock) – The Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved a major wind energy project on Friday for Idaho Power, the state’s largest utility, that will produce enough electricity to power more than 15,000 homes.

The contract for the 44-turbine, 80-megawatt project between Idaho Power and Rockland Wind Project in eastern Idaho near Pocatello is unusual because most wind farm contracts made under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) are 10 megawatts or smaller, utilities commission spokesman Gene Fadness said.

PURPA promotes alternative energy sources by small producers without increasing costs to electric customers.

Idaho Power was able to make the project fit the PURPA regulations by negotiating a lower price per megawatt with the developer, Rockland Wind Project, the commission said.

Under terms of the 25-year agreement, Idaho Power will pay $71.29 per megawatt hour, below the PURPA threshold of $75.88 per megawatt hour for projects generating a maximum 10 megawatts.

“In most cases, utilities and developers are not able to agree on a lower rate,” Fadness said. “We’re certainly pleased.”

Details on the timetable and overall value of the deal were not immediately available from Idaho Power or the commission.

Blue Ribbon Energy, a company which develops wind projects under PURPA that are smaller than 10 megawatts, did not oppose the project. But it told state regulators that neither Idaho Power, which provides electricity to more than 430,000 customers in southern Idaho, nor any other utility should treat the agreement “as establishing a precedent for rates.”

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman, editing by Peter Bohan)

Big Idaho utility signs wind energy deal