Following key pipeline infrastructure upgrades over the past two years, MDU Resources Inc.’s Boise, ID-based Intermountain Gas Co. has told Idaho state regulators it should be able to serve the natural gas needs of the southern part of the state without any significant new capital projects during the next five years.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) said Monday it will take public comments on Intermountain’s latest five-year plan through July 8. The company faces a reduced rate of growth in the midst of a continued economic downturn in the region. Thus, the utility told regulators it can meet its projected peak-day loads without any major infrastructure projects.

This is the latest update of its integrated resource plan (IRP) that the PUC requires revised every two years. It outlines how the utility will meet its demand from 285,000 residential and commercial customers and where it will acquire gas supplies.

Two years ago, Intermountain showed deliverability shortfalls on two pipeline laterals, Idaho Falls and Sun Valley, but the utility completed steps to resolve the capacity deficits, assuming an estimated annual grow rate of 1%.

Intermountain completed a 16-inch diameter pipeline loop around the city of Idaho Falls to eliminate the projected capacity problem along the Idaho Falls lateral serving cities from Pocatello to St. Anthony. That project increased the utility distribution capacity in the region from 810,000 therms to 990,000 therms. About 17% of the utility’s customers are served by the 104-mile Idaho Falls lateral.

Based on its 2010 IRP, Intermountain also faced a projected capacity deficit on the Sun Valley lateral, and as a result, it has installed added compression that boosts the lateral’s capacity from 175,000 to 204,000 therms. The Sun Valley lateral serves 4% of the Intermountain customers.

Two other major laterals in and around the Boise area are considered adequate for the next five years, but by the end of that period, one of them — the 16-mile State Street lateral serving 14% of the utility’s customers — will need to be upgraded to eliminate a projected capacity deficit, Intermountain said.

The PUC said that in recent years natural gas prices have continued to decline and since 2008, Intermountain retail gas utility customers have experienced a 40% price reduction in gas costs (see Daily GPI, Jan. 11, 2012).

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