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Irrigators Help Conserve Power

by Dave Wilkins
Capital Press, August 31, 2010

Idaho Power Co. seeks ways to reduce peak demand

Idaho Power Co. is counting on irrigators to help it reduce overall summer peak load demand in the coming years.

The utility's recently expanded Peak Rewards program has the potential to provide as much as 260 megawatts of peak reduction by 2012, company officials said in a new long-range plan.

Peak Rewards participants earn credits on their power bill in exchange for allowing Idaho Power to shut down their irrigation pumps for up to four hours at a time when power demand is near its peak.

The company uses a radio-controlled system to notify participants the day before a planned shutdown.

The voluntary program has helped irrigators offset recent power rate increases, said Lynn Tominaga, executive director of the Idaho Irrigation Pumpers Association.

"It's actually been a lifesaver," he said. "It's helped buffer some of those rate increases."

The main purpose of the program is to reduce the need for Idaho Power to purchase high-priced power on the open market during peak demand periods.

"It's a win-win for everyone," Tominaga said of the program.

Pump shutdowns under the program can last up to four hours a day, up to 15 hours per week, but no more than 60 hours per season.

The program has been used sparingly this summer because of lower-than-normal temperatures. As of Aug. 24, participating pumps had been shut down for a total of 12 hours, Tominaga said.

The new long-range plan spells out how the company plans to reduce summer peak load by 323 megawatts by 2012, largely through demand reduction programs aimed at commercial, industrial and irrigation customers.

Filed by the company late last year, the long-range plan was officially accepted by the Idaho Public Utilities Commissioner earlier this month.

It covers the company's activities for the next 20 years.

The success of Idaho Power's Peak Rewards and Irrigation Energy Efficiency Rewards programs makes new irrigation demand reduction programs unnecessary, according to a report prepared for the company by Nextant Inc.

While the company is trying to reduce peak demand usage, it also sees a need for additional power generation.

The company plans to add about 3,000 megawatts of capacity over the next two decades to meet anticipated growth.

"Even with the current recession, population growth in Idaho Power's service area will require the company to add physical resources to meet the energy demands of its growing customer base," company officials said in the plan.

Dave Wilkins
Irrigators Help Conserve Power
Capital Press, August 31, 2010

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