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PUC: Idaho Power Should Man the Switch of Flex Peak Demand Response

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Since 2009, Boston-based energy intelligence software provider EnerNoc has operated an Idaho program that provides financial incentives to Gem State commercial and industrial customers to curtail their energy use during peak-use hours, primarily during the summer.

But the Idaho Public Utilities Commission has given the OK to Idaho Power to take over the demand response program beginning this summer. The reason was simple. According to the commission, Idaho Power could deliver "similarly reliable demand response at the same or less cost."

"Now is a good time to let Idaho Power try its own program since the utility is not anticipating capacity deficits for the next few years," the commission stated in an announcement released late Wednesday.

Idaho Power officials said they are prepared to call three so-called "dispatch events" this summer, which will notify commercial or industrial customers—who volunteer for the program—approximately two hours in advance that they will need to reduce or curtail their energy use. Idaho Power said the events will be during off-peak hours, typically between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays, excluding holidays. Each dispatch event would last somewhere between two and four hours, but no more than a total of 15 hours per week.

Idaho Power estimated that the Flex Peak program would cost between $1.1 million and $1.4 million compared to the EnerNoc program, which costs approximately $2 million. Additionally, Idaho Power said the program's savings would be passed directly to customers.