As StateImpact has reported, Idaho Power on Monday submitted a proposal to raise customer rates by as much as 15.34 percent, on average, for the next year.
The price hike is largely the result of low rainfall and snowpack, which have lowered Idaho Power’s production of hydroelectricity — a comparatively cheap resource.
The Idaho Conservation League’s Ben Otto points out that Idaho Power customers will likely see more such price increases in years to come.
“The Snake River, really, is the driver of our system,” he explains. “The 20- to 30-year models of stream flows show declining flows into the future, because we have a lot of competing uses of water.”
“Lower flows means we have to use more expensive electricity,” Otto continues.
Idaho Power spokeswoman Stephanie McCurdy confirms the company’s models predict progressively lower water flows over the next two decades. That, coupled with growing electricity demand, means the utility increasingly will rely on more expensive resources, like coal and gas. “It’s not a stretch to conclude that power prices will continue to increase,” McCurdy said in an email.
Otto says that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Whether by improving irrigation practices or becoming more conscious of energy consumption, he says, there are ways for Idahoans to mitigate what lies ahead.