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IPUC plans workshop on Idaho Power bid guidelines

Staff from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission plan to conduct a public workshop Feb. 25 in Boise regarding the possible creation of commission-established bidding guidelines for Idaho Power Co. The workshop is set to begin at 9:30 a.m. at 472 W. Washington St.

Independent power producers, as well as group representing industrial and irrigation customers, last November filed a petition with the commission asking that it consider establishing competitive bidding guidelines for the procurement of major generation projects by Idaho’s three major electric utilities. But Rocky Mountain Power, which operates in eastern Idaho, and Avista Utilities in northern Idaho are already subject to guidelines established by other states in which they operate. Because those utilities currently use those guidelines for projects that serve Idaho, the original application was modified to include only Boise-based Idaho Power Co.

An Idaho Public Utilities Commission release said the petitioning groups contend that Idaho Power is free to issue bid requests that are “designed and administered completely without commission or other stakeholder input.”

The petitioners pointed specifically to the $400 million, 330-megawatt Langley Gulch natural gas plant the commission approved last fall. The Idaho Power-owned plant is under construction near New Plymouth. In that case, Idaho Power initiated a bid process that was reviewed by a third party. Idaho Power received five valid proposals that represented 13 alternative sources, including a proposal by the company to build the plant itself. Idaho Power selected its own self-build plan, claiming it will have a revenue requirement impact of about $95 million less than the next competing proposal.

Some parties in the case argued the bid process was flawed, because, among other reasons, the bid evaluator was hired by the company and there was not an independent scoring by the bid evaluator, the Public Utilities Commission release said. The parties also maintained that Idaho Power should have more seriously considered a “build-and-transfer project.” which would allow a third party to build the plant and then turn it over to Idaho Power to operate.

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