Renewable energy creates oversupply, may impact rates
TWIN FALLS — Idaho Power Co.’s hydroelectric facilities are generating more power than what the company can use — and staff are pondering how a regional oversupply may affect future customer bills.
Federal regulations require the company to purchase all the power generated from its most expensive resource: wind and solar. Idaho Power doesn’t own its own wind and solar facilities, but must buy the power from commercial projects.
“We’re in the middle of a pretty significant water supply here,” said Kresta Davis-Butts, real time balancing operations leader for Idaho Power. “We are generating quite a bit of hydroelectric generation.”
Brownlee Reservoir, upstream of Hells Canyon, is far above normal levels, and water is being spilled for flood control. But 13 solar projects able to generate 270 megawatts, and 627 megawatts of wind energy facilities, are contributing a regional oversupply of energy, she said.
“The wind is definitely generating more at this time of year,” Kresta-Butts said.
All that extra energy has to go somewhere. Idaho Power is forced to either limit its hydroelectric generation or sell its excess. Customer demand on the system is around 2,100 megawatts during peak times in the morning and evening.
“We have had days when we have transferred 300 to 500 megawatts of energy,” Kresta-Butts said.