Idaho Public Utilities Commission approves Rocky Mountain Power's sales agreement to buy power from Cargill's 1.7-MW biogas-fueled digester generating facility at dairy farm near Roberts, Idaho

BOISE, Idaho , June 10, 2011 (press release) – The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has approved a Rocky Mountain Power sales agreement with the operator of biogas-fueled digester generating facility near Roberts in Jefferson County.

The 10-year agreement is with Cargill, Inc., which will own and operate the 1.7-megawatt project that will generate power from a dairy operation. The project is expected to begin making power deliveries to Rocky Mountain Power in seven days.

Under the agreement, Cargill will be paid a rate that is published by the commission under the provisions of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA). The act was passed by Congress in 1978 to encourage development of renewable energy technologies as alternatives to burning fossil fuels or building new power plants. It requires that electric utilities offer to buy power produced from qualifying small-power producers at rates determined by the states. The rate to be paid small-power developers, called an avoided-cost rate, is to be equal to the cost the utility avoids if it would have had to generate the power itself or purchase it from another source. The commission must ensure the avoided-cost rate is reasonable for utility customers because 100 percent of the price utilities pay to qualifying producers is included in customer rates.

The annual energy payments by Rocky Mountain Power will be about $480,000 this year, increasing to about $1.04 million in 2020 or a cumulative total of $8.8 million over the 10-year agreement.

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