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IPUC approves Idaho Power participation in NEEA

Idaho Power Co.’s application for authority to fund its continued participation in the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) has been approved, but the Idaho Public Utilities Commission made clear it will require the company to demonstrate a “sufficient benefit to customers” before it will include alliance funding in customer rates.

The NEEA is a nonprofit organization working to accelerate market adoption of energy-efficient products, technologies and practices within homes, businesses and industries. It is funded by Northwest utilities, the Bonneville Power Administration and the Energy Trust of Oregon.

The alliance is asking that Idaho Power pay 8.62 percent of its overall 2010-14 budget. That totals $16.5 million, which is $3.3 million per year over five years. Idaho Power’s share of NEEA funding is included in the 4.75 percent energy efficiency rider paid by customers.

While the commission approved Idaho Power’s continued participation, the company will yet need to show that customers benefited sufficiently when the company files an annual report of its conservation related program, the commission said in a release. “The commission expects rider funds to be used judiciously to ensure customers receive tangible benefits from their payments to support energy efficiency programs,” the commission’s order said.

Idaho Power said NEEA helps fund a commercial new construction initiative that includes an integrated design lab in Boise, an energy management program that works with large commercial customers to improve building operations and maintenance to save about 10 to 20 percent of electric energy use, development of energy building codes, evaluation of Idaho Power’s energy efficiency programs to increase their cost efficiency, and promotion of increased market adoption of energy efficiency programs in rural markets.

The Idaho Conservation League and the Snake River Alliance supported Idaho Power’s continued participation, although ICL expressed concern that participation could reduce funds available for other efficiency programs that may have more immediate results. The Snake River Alliance said it believes Idaho Power’s participation “resulted in energy efficiency gains that would not have occurred absent NEEA’s role in Idaho.”

The Industrial Customers of Idaho Power opposed the application, maintaining that an increase in NEEA funding would result in a decrease of money available for other conservation programs. The industrial customers said Idaho Power should spend rider funds on programs that provide “easily measurable reductions in demand on Idaho Power’s system, not on increased funding of NEEA’s broadly focused, regional market transformation programs.”

Interested parties may petition the commission for reconsideration by June 2. Petitions for reconsideration must say specifically why the petitioner contends 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., Boise, mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0074 or faxed to 208-334-3762. The case is No. IPC-E-10-04.

A full text of the commission’s order, and related documents, are available here.

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