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Idaho Utility Seeks to Outsource NatGas Power Plant Maintenance

Idaho regulators are seeking comments on a proposal by the state's major power utility to outsource maintenance of its three natural-fired generation plants that collectively represent 755 MW. 

Idaho Power Co. has signed a long-term maintenance contract with Siemens Energy and proposes to sell it $21.9 million in spare parts inventory for the gas-fired plants. The utility is seeking to create a model for the gas-fired plants, which it currently self-manages and contracts with Siemens on a case-by-case basis for service. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) must approve the transaction.

The three plants are Langley Gulch (330 MW) near Payette, and two peaking plants, Danskin (261 MW) and Bennett Mountain (164 MW), both near Mountain Home.

During construction of the Langley Gulch plant, which opened three years ago, Idaho Power said it began exploring other maintenance options. It is the utility's only combined-cycle combustion turbine plant; Danskin and Bennett Mountain are single-cycle peaking plants.

Concerned about the level of technical skills needed to maintain the plants, Idaho Power reached out to third-party providers, including Siemens, the plant manufacturer.

Idaho Power is seeking approval from the state regulators for a long-term maintenance deal with Siemens, contending that the contract would decrease overall costs to the company and utility electricity customers by "leveraging Siemens' pool of inventory, outage resources and technical expertise."

In addition, Idaho Power is arguing that one long-term contract is more economical than continuing to contract with Siemens under the current case-by-case approach. Customers also would benefit from the spare parts inventory sale because the price is more than what the parts could have brought in an open market, the utility said.

Comments to the PUC are due Aug. 27, and a technical hearing on the proposal is set for Sept. 9 in Boise.

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