A 144-page document released this week by Idaho Power reinforces hydroelectric power's importance to the company's long-term success and survival.
The report, called the Integrated Resource Plan, was submitted to the pubic utilities commissions of both Idaho and Oregon and details the corporation's "commitment to serving our customers with reliable, environmentally-responsible energy at a fair price," Idaho Power senior vice president Lisa Grow said.
The plan evaluates a 20-year period extending through 2034, during which time Idaho Power's load is forecast to grow by 1.2% per year and its peak-hour demand by 1.5% per year. Meanwhile, the utility's service base, which currently includes about 516,000 customers in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon, is expected to grow to about 711,000.
The plan submitted for evaluation was selected after an advisory council evaluated computer models of 23 portfolios that projected costs of "operating different combinations of resources based on a wide range of variables", according to a company release.
These models not only accounted for Idaho Power's growing demands for power, but also natural gas prices, increased costs for carbon regulation, and future integration of other resources.
"A key component of Idaho Power's preferred resource portfolio is maintaining its low-cost baseload power anchored by 17 hydroelectric projects that provide roughly half of the electricity delivered to Idaho Power customers in an average year," the company said. "Those hydro projects, in addition to the company's natural gas-fired plants, are increasingly needed to offset the variable nature of wind, solar and other renewable resources."
Idaho Power's hydro portfolio includes the American Falls, Bliss, Brownlee, C.J. Strike, Clear Lake, Cascade, Hells Canyon, Lower and Upper Malad, Milner, Oxbow, Lower and Upper Salmon, Shoshone Falls, Swan Falls, Thousand Springs and Twin Falls projects.
The Integrated Resource Plan is the company's 12th, which updates the document every two years using guidelines established by the Idaho and Oregon public utility commissions. The document is subject to a public review process, with meetings about the plan to be held in the utility's service area later this year.