Idaho PUC Accepts Wind Power Purchase Plan

[] The Idaho Public Utilities Commission accepted a 20-year sales agreement between Idaho Power and Montana-based Fossil Wind Gulch Park. Fossil Gulch intends to construct and maintain seven 1.5 MW wind turbines about 3 and one half miles west of Hagerman, Idaho. Idaho Power would purchase the power under the commission’s established rates for PURPA projects. PURPA, the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act, was passed by Congress during the energy crisis of the late 1970s. Its purpose is to encourage development of renewable energy technologies as alternatives to burning fossil fuels or constructing new power plants. The federal act requires that electric utilities offer to buy power produced by qualifying small power producers or cogenerators. The rate to be paid to project developers, called an “avoided cost rate,” is to be equal to the cost the electric utility avoids if it would have had to generate the power itself or purchase it from another source. The commission ordered that the current PURPA rate of about 5.5 cents per kWh be adopted, even though the rate is soon expected to increase to about 6 cents.


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