When many customers connected to Boise geothermal line—the largest direct-use system of its kind in the United States—they assumed that the natural heating system would come with consumer savings. But natural gas rates have plummeted, dropping 39 percent in the last seven years, leaving Boise's geothermal rates near, or above, natural gas rates.
That's why the City of Boise's Public Works Department will be suggesting a 9 percent drop in its geothermal rate when the Boise City Council meets this Tuesday, Jan. 15.
The City of Boise operates and collects fees for the system that serves the city's downtown core, providing energy-efficient heat to more than 65 businesses.
Beginning in 1983 and continuing until 2009, geothermal rates were traditionally 30 percent below natural gas rates, but a number of customers still kept their natural gas hook-ups as a back-up. Because of the drop in natural gas rates, according to a public works presentation to be unveiled on Tuesday, the city is losing customers.
The proposed 9 percent decrease, which would be retroactive to Jan. 1, would bring the city's geothermal rate to slightly below the current natural gas rates.