Adding the condition that there be more public involvement in its implementation, Idaho regulators have approved a five-year integrated resource plan (IRP) for Boise, ID-based Intermountain Gas Corp. based on a forecast 1.75% annual increase in peak demand.

The plan approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) includes Intermountain's resource selections and a process for making resource decisions, and requires the public to be offered more "opportunities to provide input into the planning process."

Given planned upgrades over the next five years, Intermountain's plan sees no peak-day challenges (see Daily GPI, Nov. 15). Part of the outlook depends on switching some large industrial customers to oil in peak-demand situations and dipping into some storage supplies.

"Intermountain Gas does anticipate a peak-day deficit as soon as 2011 along its 104-mile Idaho Falls pipeline lateral but believes it can mitigate the deficit by switching some industrial customers to fuel oil during times of extremely cold temperatures," the PUC said.

The PUC ordered Intermountain Gas to make a greater effort to provide "appropriate notice to city and county leaders as part of the process, especially in Idaho Falls and Rexburg," which are experiencing high growth. Regulators said they were concerned that a new portable liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility near Rexburg is not sufficient to encourage and support new business ventures in that area.

In its order, the commission said Intermountain should consider conservation programs that "have the potential to be cost-effective in promoting and enticing energy savings," adding the caveat that acceptance of the plan does not mean that the individual projects in the plan are approved, only that the utility has met its obligation to file the document with the PUC.

Rexburg is on the Idaho Falls pipeline, which extends from Pocatello to St. Anthony and represents 15% of the company's customer base. To meet demand during peak periods, the company said it can switch its industrial customers to fuel oil. During 2009, 41.2% of Intermountain's overall throughput was attributable to industrial sales and transportation. Peak-day delivery deficits also can be managed, the company said, by bringing in gas from the new Rexburg LNG facility.

The Sun Valley pipeline lateral, which serves about 4% of Intermountain's Idaho customers, will require an upgrade to meet growth in that area, the IRP states. The Idaho Conservation League filed comments stating that Intermountain needs to encourage more conservation and efficiency programs to avoid building new infrastructure and to mitigate price volatility in gas markets.

Intermountain Gas serves about 305,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers throughout southern Idaho.

Copies of the commission's order and Intermountain's IRP are available at www.puc.idaho.gov under "Open Gas Cases" (Case No. INT-G-10-04).

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