Idaho Power won approval from the Idaho PUC to buy 120 MW from the Jackpot Solar project, which will help the utility offset a capacity deficit projected to begin in 2026.

The 20-year power purchase agreement with Jackpot Solar, which commissioners approved Dec. 24, is contingent on the developer securing a 30-percent federal investment tax credit [IPC-E-19-14].

The contract's dirt-cheap price—$21.75/MWh in the first year—drew national headlines when Idaho Power announced the proposed deal in March (CU No. 1899 [14]). The utility submitted its application the following month (CU No. 1899 [14]). The price steps up 1.5 percent each year of the contract. Idaho Power will own all renewable energy credits produced by the facility’s output.

Commission staff raised concerns with the analysis Idaho Power relied on in its application, questioning the contract's benefit for the utility's customers. Demonstrating that was required for approval because Idaho Power is not projected to have a capacity deficit for six years.

After several additional analyses using different variables and methodologies showed the PPA would be better than alternative resources by 2022—the year the facility is slated to start commercial operations—and that it would be an economic benefit for customers over the life of the contract, staff recommended the PUC approve the sale.

Idaho Power expects the project will require $11 million in transmission upgrades.

Contributing Editor

Dan has covered stories from Seattle to Tbilisi; spent time with the AP, Everett Daily Herald and Christian Science Monitor; and was twice a member of a team nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He and his wife have three young children and live in Seattle.