POCATELLO, Idaho - Idaho Power will no longer have to turn out the lights on its customer load reduction programs.
On Friday, the utility company and the Idaho Public Utilities Commission settled an agreement to cut-back on the financial incentive stipend offered to customers who volunteered to be a part of the program. It will also allow Idaho Power to shut-off these customers' energy source in the form of air conditioning or irrigation without warning.
Out of Idaho Power's 370,000 ratepayers in Idaho, 37,000 of them are signed up to be a part of either the "A/C Cool Credit" or "Irrigation Peak Rewards" program.
This new agreement will now offer customers signed-up under the A/C program a $15 credit over the course of two months instead of the previous $7 each month for three months, in exchange for their agreement to cycle their energy on any given day.
In addition, Idaho Power will have the opportunity to shut-off a participant's irrigation without warning, saying this will allow the company to act more quickly and efficiently in the case of an emergency.
The irrigation incentive is $16 per kW each season.
These changes come after Idaho Power realized running these programs, which started in 2003 and 2004 respectively, were more expensive to operate than the value of the energy saved.
In a statement released by the commission, it wrote: "Idaho Power claimed it spent about $5.5 million on the A/C Cool Credit program in 2012 and about $12.3 million on Irrigation Peak Rewards. Much of that expense was in direct payments to customers who volunteer to participate in the programs. The costs of the programs are eventually passed on to customers."
"We believe the settlement is a fair and reasonable resolution, and we value the thoughtful, candid feedback provided by workshop participants, and appreciate the efforts of stakeholders," Idaho Power representative Stephanie McCurdy said.
Earlier this year in December, the utility company decided to suspend the programs altogether. However, the company said this solution is the most viable option on the table.
Since June, it has met with the Idaho Irrigation Pumpers Association, the Snake River Alliance, and environmentalists from the Idaho Conservation League to discuss other alternatives.
The commission is taking comments from the public until Oct. 28, and nothing will be finalized until the commission gives its final nod of approval.