Idaho Power Wants Customers
BOISE -- A wet October has increased optimism that winter precipitation could help end Idaho's five-year drought, but the state's largest electric utility is still committed to a cloud-seeding program to add extra moisture.
After three years of cloud seeding at the expense of its shareholders, Idaho Power Co. wants state regulators to have its customers pick up most of the tab in the future.
Based on past performance, the company plans to spend $950,000 this winter and next spring on the program it began in 2001 during the Western energy crisis. Idaho Power officials maintain that last year seeding increased precipitation 16 percent from February through mid-April.
That additional snowfall in the mountains increases the spring runoff that fills southern Idaho's rivers and reservoirs. Any additional flow through the river system and Idaho Power's hydro-generating dams provides the utility and its 436,000 customers some of the cheapest electricity in the nation.
Maximizing power from the dams, regulators agree, limits the amount of more expensive coal-fired generation from plants in Oregon, Nevada and Wyoming on power from the wholesale market that the company must use to meet customer demand.
The Public Utilities Commission is reviewing written comments on the proposal and has not scheduled a public hearing yet.
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