Idaho Power set a record peak load on June 30, 2021, when its customers used some 3,745 MW of electricity at 6 p.m., owing to a mix of explosive growth in southern Idaho and an extended heat spell that has been record-breaking in its own right.
“We have experts who train year-round for exactly these types of scenarios,” Adam Richins, Idaho Power’s COO, said after the record was set. “Last week’s success in meeting extremely high demand shows just how skilled our people are and how resilient our system is. We also appreciate all our customers who helped lighten the load in the evening hours.”
The company was able to meet demand thanks to its employees and a series of resources that include 17 hydroelectric plants, three natural gas-powered plants, two coal-fired plants, and energy purchased from wind, solar, and other small independent energy producers. Idaho Power also imports energy from other parts of the West. It makes use of several demand-response programs that incentivize participants to allow their energy use to be decreased during periods of high demand.
The company expects growth to continue and is planning for the accompanying strain. To that end, it is building a 120 MW solar project south of Twin Falls, Idaho, and has issued a request for proposals for another 80 MW by summer 2023, followed by several hundred additional MW by 2025. A new transmission line, running from Boardman to Hemingway, will allow Idaho Power to import up to 500 MW to meet further aid summer demand, although it will take until at least 2026 to be brought online.
Idaho Power today serves more than 590,000 customers in Idaho and Oregon. Its previous record peak load was set when it had about 540,000 customers, who spurred a 3,422 MW demand in 2017.