Idaho Power Adopts Growthophobe Philosophy

It reads like a chapter from the GROWHOPHOBE handbook.

Idaho Power is happy to expand its transmission lines to take care of growth, but wants those who benefit and create the demand to pay for it, according to a new filing before the Idaho Public Utilities Commission.

Under the proposal, Idaho Power seeks to charge what amounts to “impact fees” to cut down on rate hikes borne by all the rate payers. That goes along well with the GROWTHOPHOBE idea that growth for the sake of growth is not a worthwhile endeavor. However, if someone wants to come here and pay their way–not with public money–we will welcome them.

Here is the text of an IPUC press release on the topic.

Idaho Power wants to shift more line extension costs to new customers

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is taking comment through Feb. 2 on an application by Idaho Power Company to remove a cap of 1.5 percent that it can charge new customers in overhead costs for line extensions.

Idaho Power claims the proposed revision is an effort to shift more of the cost for new service attachments from the general body of ratepayers to customers requesting the construction. Such a move, Idaho Power states, would reduce the revenue requirement needed from the general body of ratepayers and reduce upward pressure on rates.

Currently overhead costs, such as pay and expenses for engineering supervisors and administrative workers, are pooled and recouped through an assessment placed on line extension work orders. That assessment is part of Idaho Power’s “Rule H” tariff. All tariff adjustments must be approved by the commission. The current tariff caps the collection for overhead at 1.5 percent. Idaho Power wants the cap removed and asses all overhead expense to the specific customers requesting the construction. According to the company’s calculation, the new rate would be 22 percent to cover the entire overhead expense for line extension construction.

The commission plans to handle this request in a modified procedure that uses written comments rather than conducting a hearing, unless customer comments can demonstrate a need for a public hearing. Comments are accepted through Feb. 2 via e-mail by accessing the commission’s homepage at and clicking on “Comments & Questions About a Case.” Fill in the case number (IPC-E-11-24) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.

A full text of the commission’s order, along with other documents related to this case, is available on the commission’s Web site. Click on “File Room” and then on “Electric Cases” and scroll down to the above case number.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Despite all the money for nothing enticements from local elected officials growth boils down to a decent place to do business with a reasonable tax structure and a workforce available to work for reasonable wages.

    Add to this are costs to ship goods to markets and make a profit for owners and shareholders.

  2. Dean Gunderson
    Jan 22, 2012, 3:51 am

    A growth-based economy is inherently a system that relies on perpetual debt — whereas a steady-state economy is based (not on debt) but the velocity of transactions.

    The former system doesn’t produce “liveable” wages for workers, it requires workers to borrow money to meet their financial obligations. The latter system favors localism and places a higher value on sustainable living.

    When the PUC requires each public utility to project their “needs” out to a 75-year horizon — but when the utility company assumes it must perpetually “grow” — it invests in a distribution network to service a Sprawl-scenario pattern of settlement. Regardless of how Idaho Power proposes to push more of its operational costs to its rate payers (today), if it assumes the Treasure Valley population will top 1M people 75 years from now — it has embraced a growth-centric model for its business plan.

    Interestingly, several years ago when the Ada County communities asked Idaho Power to project its costs based on a more tightly concentrated, and more sustainable, land use model — they found that the infrastructure costs for the SMALLER power distribution system would be higher than the Sprawl scenario. This was due to the past few decades of investment the company has already made, based on a perpetual growth land use scenario. The company has already purchased the land for the Sprawl-scenarios’ substations and distribution network. Re-tooling today’s network to string new conductors through existing conduit (or digging up existing pipe in roadways) and upgrading existing substations turns out to more expensive than simply kicking the can down the road and letting communities approve subdivisions left & right.

    I’m not entirely convinced that a shift of corporate debt to prospective rate payers falls more into the category of discouraging growth — or if it’s just greed disguised as an attempt to “control” costs.

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