Idaho Power Rates Go Up as Snake River Alliance Questions Gas-Powered Plant

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The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has given the green light for Idaho Power to boost its rates to help pay for the company's new Langley Gulch natural gas-powered plant near New Plymouth. The plant fired up for the first time on June 30. The facility has a price tag of $400 million.

Average power rates will increase by 6.8 percent. For an average Idaho Power customer, using 1,020 kilowatt-hours per month, the average monthly bill is expected to increase by $5.63, from $82.72 per month to $88.35.

While the total cost of the plant topped $400 million, the recent PUC order allowed $389.4 million in base rates. Approximately $7.2 million was included in rates during Idaho Power's 2011 general rate case and another $3.23 million was just approved.

The Snake River Alliance, advocates for safe and efficient energy, argued that the gas-fired plant was unnecessary and "ill-timed," arguing that Idaho Power had ample energy supplies. But Idaho Power argued that the availability of Langley would "significantly reduce the company's reliance on purchased power."