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Commission adopts Idaho Power rate moratorium agreement

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is accepting a settlement between Idaho Power Co. and a number of customer groups that places a moratorium on general rate case increases until January 2012 while at the same time giving the utility a better opportunity to earn its allowed rate of return, the commission said in a release.

Idaho Power last fall was in the early stages of filing a rate case that could have resulted in a base rate increase of between 10 and 20 percent effective this June. Instead, the utility and parties to the settlement negotiations reached an agreement that allows Idaho Power to use some of the anticipated reduction customers will get in the Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) surcharge this spring and to accelerate investment tax credits it receives to bolster its earnings, the commission said.

The agreement is signed by representatives of irrigation customers, industrial and major commercial customers, and representatives of low-income residential customers.

One of the participants, the Snake River Alliance, said “the revenue sharing, PCA sharing, and rate case moratorium components of the settlement in this case serve the company and its customers as well as possible in our current economic times.”

The Community Action Partnership Association of Idaho (CAPAI), which represents low-income residential customers, said that “given the company’s recent substantial investments in infrastructure … and given that the company had incurred relatively high costs during the test year, CAPAI believes a general rate case would likely have resulted in an end-result more costly to Idaho Power ratepayers ….”

An anticipated significant reduction in the annual Power Cost Adjustment made this a good year for the agreement, the commission’s news release said. Each June 1, Idaho Power customers get either a PCA surcharge or a credit on their bills, largely depending on the previous year’s water levels and market conditions.

It is anticipated that this year’s PCA will be a significant decrease to customers, though how much of a decrease won’t be known until after April 15, the commission said.

A full text of the commission’s order, and other documents related to this case can be found here under Case No. IPC-E-09-30 in the electric cases category.

Interested parties may petition the commission for reconsideration by no later than Feb. 3. Petitions for reconsideration must set forth specifically why the petitioner contends that the order is unreasonable, unlawful or erroneous. Petitions should include a statement of the nature and quantity of evidence the petitioner will offer if reconsideration is granted.

Petitions can be delivered to the commission at 472 W. Washington St. in Boise, mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0074, or faxed to 208-334-3762.

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