Many southern Idaho homes and business rely on natural gas from Intermountain Gas Company. Like any resource, conserving gas is important to prevent pollution control power costs. Last fall Intermountain asked state regulators to adjust rates; we took this opportunity to create new gas conservation programs.
Now the state regulators, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC), ruled on Intermountain’s request and our counter arguments.
The full case covered a host of financial and accounting issues. ICL, along with our partner the NW Energy Coalition, focused on two issues: the design of your gas rates and the scope of the conservation programs. On both issues, the PUC agreed with us.
We care about the design of your natural gas rates because this influences gas consumption. Imagine the difference between flat fee phone bills and price per gallon gasoline bills; people ignore phone minutes and focus on miles per gallon. We proposed to keep the customer charge of your monthly natural gas bill low and the cost per unit of gas higher to encourage people to conserve-similar to the miles per gallon model. The PUC agreed with our position stating, "if the Company truly desires to incentivize efficiency it should" maintain this rate design of low customer charges and higher gas charges.
Intermountain proposed a modest set of natural gas conservation programs, largely designed to encourage people to switch from electric heat. We agreed this was a good start and recommended Intermountain adopt a focused effort to expand the breadth and depth of the conservation incentives. For example: we encouraged Intermountain to adopt programs for insulation, windows, and water heating. The PUC agreed with us stating natural gas conservation is "both a least-cost resource and an important element of promoting energy efficiency, is an important part of any utility’s provision of service." We look forward to working with Intermountain to quickly develop a broad suite of natural gas conservation programs.
The opportunity to create a new suite of conservation programs does not come often. ICL and our partners at NW Energy Coalition are pleased that Idahoans will have new incentives to reduce gas consumption. Heating our homes and business with less gas will reduce air pollution and reduce pressure to exploit fragile land and water resources for gas development. Stay tuned as new programs appear over the coming years.
ICL is working hard on a clean air future for Idaho, and we have created a climate fund for our energy and water work. You can support this by making a gift to our It’s My ID campaign-before the May 15 deadline!