Idaho Power Co. is asking state regulators to assert jurisdiction over two Idaho-based wind projects that want to sell their output in Oregon to qualify for that state’s published rates.
The two projects, Tumbleweed Energy II in Elmore County and Western Desert Energy I in Owyhee County, seek Idaho Power’s approval of a Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) contract to sell power to Idaho Power’s Oregon customers at Oregon rates.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently reduced the size of projects that can qualify for published rates from 10 MW to 100 kW. Oregon’s published rate eligibility cap is 10 MW. The Tumbleweed project is 10 MW, and Idaho Power claims the Boise-based developers of both projects is attempting to “cherry pick” a different jurisdiction’s rates for its Idaho projects.
“This is a blatant attempt to manipulate and avoid the Idaho commission’s rates, rules and regulations that are designed to implement PURPA and protect Idaho Power’s customers,” the company states in its petition to the PUC.
The developers argue that the PUC is prohibited by federal law from regulating qualifying PURPA projects and does not have authority to restrict the projects’ access to markets. Doing so, the developers argue, would violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by restricting the projects’ access to markets outside Idaho.
The PUC is taking comments on Idaho Power’s application through Sept. 8.
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