Idaho Power Co. has filed an application to change the way it treats its approximate 350 net-metering customers, says the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The Idaho PUC has set Jan. 29 as the deadline for parties that want to intervene in this case.
Idaho Power is asking the commission to increase that capacity limit to 5.8 MW so that the net metering program may continue. But because the program is growing so rapidly, Idaho Power claims its fixed costs to serve net-metering customers is growing and that the retail energy rate it pays those customers is more than what their energy is worth.
Net-metering customers are paid the full retail energy rate for the power they generate. However, Idaho Power claims that rate is higher than the actual value of the generation, because the general retail rate includes not just a generation component, but also transmission, distribution and customer-related costs such as billing.
Because net-metering customers provide only generation and not transmission or distribution, these customers are being paid for services they do not provide to the detriment of other customers, Idaho Power claims.
Further, Idaho Power claims, the fixed costs of connecting net-metering customers to the grid have increased. The utility says these price inequities are unfair to standard service customers who must then compensate the company for expenses related to net metering.
To remove the transmission and distribution components from the retail rate paid net-metering customers, Idaho Power wants to increase the monthly service charge for residential net-metering customers from $5.00 to $20.92 and from $4.00 to $22.49 for small-business net-metering customers.
To more fully reflect the growing cost of service associated with net metering customers' use of Idaho Power's distribution system, the utility proposes to establish a basic load capacity charge of $1.48/kW for residential net-metering customers and $1.37/kW for small-business net metering customers.
While those demand-related charges would increase, Idaho Power proposes to reduce the retail energy rates net-metering customers pay to Idaho Power for their consumption. For example, a residential net-metering consumer would pay a non-summer rate of 4.85 cents per kWh compared to a standard residential customer's rate of 7.23 cents per kWh for the first 800 kWh of use.
Idaho Power said the net-metering program was created for customers who want to generate their own electricity in order to reduce all or part of their monthly electric use. The program was not intended, the utility states, to be one in which net-metering customers would be able to sell excess power.
The application, Case No. IPC-E-12-27, can be viewed at www.puc.idaho.gov.