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Idaho Power, state regulatory staff reach on-site customer generation settlement

Idaho Power Co. and state utility regulator's staff have come to an agreement regarding net metering rates for residential and small general service customers.

Under the settlement, energy imported from or exported to Idaho Power's system by customers that produce some of their own energy using solar or other generators no longer will be measured on a net monthly basis. Instead, it will be measured on a net hourly basis "to allow for a more accurate measurement," according to Idaho Power.

The deal also provides that as of Jan. 1, 2020, residential customers that generate more energy than they consume per hour will be credited at an initial rate of 8.7 cents/kWh while small general service customers will be credited at an initial rate of 10.2 cents/kWh. Those initial rates will be adjusted periodically through 2028, when they will be set at an estimated 4.4 cents/kWh for residential customers and 4.9 cents/kWh for small general service customers.

A "non-export" option also will be available to customers seeking to interconnect with the Idaho Power grid but not export any excess power to the utility.

However, the parties involved in the proposed settlement have requested that the Idaho Public Utilities Commission hear arguments for and against grandfathering existing customers' rates, according to a decision memorandum submitted to the regulators by the state's deputy attorney general.

"Idaho Power believes this settlement will help modernize its compensation structure for customer generation, which will help keep prices fair and affordable for all customers," Idaho Power said in a news release.

Residential and small general service customers "who do on-site generation aren't paying for the cost of maintaining and operating the grid, and so the new rates are designed to help mitigate that issue," said Jordan Rodriguez, a spokesperson for Idaho Power.

Currently, residential customers overall have a cost-to-serve deficit of $19.3 million, while large general customers and small general customers have respective deficits of $14.5 million and $1 million, according to a fixed cost report filed by Idaho Power in a separate docket. Irrigation and industrial customers, however, have cost-to-serve surpluses of $21.1 million and $8.6 million, respectively.

While large general customers' cost-to-serve deficits are not addressed by the instant settlement, a spokesman with Idaho Power said concerns related to that customer class are being addressed in a separate proceeding.

Idaho Power has over 560,000 residential, business and agricultural customers.

The settlement still must be approved by the Idaho PUC. (Idaho PUC docket IPC-E-18-16)