Idaho Power's Request to Exit Coal Plant Comes With Rate Increase 

click to enlarge Idaho Powers owns 50 percent of the North Valmy Generating Station near Battle Mountain, Nev. - SNAKE RIVER ALLIANCE
  • Snake River Alliance
  • Idaho Powers owns 50 percent of the North Valmy Generating Station near Battle Mountain, Nev.
In a request filed with state regulators Oct. 21, Idaho Power indicates it wants to speed up its exit from a Nevada coal-powered facility.

For decades, Idaho Power maintained coal was one of the cheapest ways to supply a constant baseload of electricity to its customers. According to a new assessment, utility officials have now concluded the North Valmy Generating Station near Battle Mountain, Nev.—of which Idaho Power owns 50 percent—"may not benefit customers from an economic and electric reliability perspective to operate the facility beyond 2025."

click to enlarge The North Valmy Generating Station. - IDAHO POWER
  • Idaho Power
  • The North Valmy Generating Station.
Idaho Power had initially said it wanted to ween itself off Unit No. 1 of the Valmy power plant by 2031 and Unit No. 2 by 2035. Now, in a filing with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, Idaho Power says it wants to accelerate that schedule and pull out of both units by 2025. The power company was quick to add that an accelerated depreciation schedule, which it says is "similar to paying off a home or car loan early," will also trigger more up-front costs.

In its filing, Idaho Power says the accelerated exit "would result in a $28.5 million increase," which would include decommissioning costs and capital investments forecast for the remaining life of the plant. As a result, Idaho Power said it is also asking the PUC to approve a $6.7 million increase in depreciation expenses. 

What that means to Idaho Power customers, the utility says, is a proposed increase in rates. Such an increase would also need approval from the PUC. If approved, a typical Idaho residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy per month could see an increase of about $3.08 on their monthly bill. It represents an overall increase of 3.1 percent from current prices.
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