Tentative settlement reached regarding expenses to relicense Idaho Power hydropower complex

Published on December 15, 2017 by Kevin Randolph

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The Idaho Public Service Commission (PSC) announced Wednesday that it is accepting public comments on a tentative settlement regarding expenses related to the relicensing of Idaho Power’s Hells Canyon Complex.

The PSC will accept comments through Jan. 5, 2018, on the proposed agreement, which is subject to commission approval.

Under the proposed settlement agreement, approximately $216.5 million in expenditures associated with the relicensing of the complex would be designated as prudently incurred and eligible to play a role in determining customer rates at a later date. The proposed eligible costs are approximately $5 million than those in Idaho Power’s initial request filed in late 2016.

The Hells Canyon Complex, which consists of the Brownlee, Oxbow and Hells Canyon dams and is capable of generating 1,167 megawatts of power, has been operating under annual licenses since its 50-year license expired in 2005.

Idaho Power filed a license application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2003 and has since been working to resolve issues related to the application. Idaho Power has said it began its relicensing work in 1991, which has included extensive public review and involved various federal and state agencies in Idaho and Oregon.

Hells Canyon must comply with various provisions of the Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act as well as regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. The complex’s general area is home to more than 100 species with endangered, threatened or protective status.

Idaho Power expects a decision from FERC in 2021 at the earliest.