On July 3, the Idaho Public Service Commission issued an order in Case No. IPC-E-12-27 that denied the majority of a net metering proposal put forth by Idaho Power and significantly improved the policy in the state. In Idaho Power’s original proposal, the utility asked the Idaho Commission to approve four changes to the utility’s net metering service: (1) doubling the net metering participation cap from 2.9 megawatts (MW) to 5.8 MW; (2) changing the net metering tariff structure to add significant penalties and charges to net metering customers’ bills; (3) changing how excess net energy is billed to eliminate a net excess generation (NEG) payment in favor of a kilowatt-hour credit that would expire at the end of the calendar year ; and (4) changing tariff provisions regarding interconnection with net metering customers.
The Idaho Commission denied Idaho Power’s application, in favor of provisions that would improve net metering, rather than penalize these distributed generation customers. In lieu of doubling the net metering cap for Idaho Power, the Commission opted to remove the participation cap entirely stating, “We find that a cap may disrupt and have a chilling effect on the investment in and installation of distributed generation. Accordingly, we decline to adopt a cap at this time.”
Regarding the addition of net metering tariff charges the Commission declined Idaho Power’s proposal, stating, “..the Company’s proposal is inconsistent with State policy as expressed in the Idaho Energy Plan, will discourage investment in distributed generation, and encourage rate-gaming.” The Commission also noted that the issue is significant enough that if Idaho Power wished to revisit this issue, it should do so in the context of a general rate case.
In the matter of net excess generation compensation, the Commission accepted Idaho Power’s proposal to carry forward NEG in the form of kilowatt-hour credits on customers’ bills. However, the Commission did not accept the utility’s proposal to zero out those credits at the end of the calendar year, opting instead to require the utility to carry them forward indefinitely.
Regarding the reorganization of Interconnection provisions regarding net metering customers, the Commission accepted a negotiated compromise between Idaho Power and other parties.
In a press release, the Commission stated that it appreciated the extent of public participation in the case. “The public input was especially thoughtful and thorough and, based on the record before us, we find that the public overwhelmingly opposes the company’s application,” the commission said. “Moreover, we are concerned that the company did not seek out or consider customer input before proposing such dramatic changes to the net metering provisions,” the commission said. “We applaud the company for bringing this case and these issues to our attention. But we advise the company that it would enhance consideration of future program-specific changes if it informed and obtained feedback from its customers and other stakeholders before proposing them.”