The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has issued a straw man proposal that lays out plans to revise the surrogate avoided resource (SAR) methodology used to calculate avoided cost rates for wind generators.  The "avoided cost" is the price paid to Qualifying Facilities that are selling power to Idaho utilities under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA).   

The PUC included six cost categories in the wind SAR:  capital costs; fixed and variable O&M costs, transmission costs; tax credits; wind integration; and forecasting costs.  The PUC assumed transmission costs of $1.90/kw-month, production tax credits at $0.021/kWh, a $0.00 REC premium, and wind integration at $6.50/MWh.  With those inputs and others, the PUC arrived at 20-year levelized wind rates for a 2010 project as follows:

Wind and Gas SARs
Utility Wind SAR Gas SAR
Avista $86.31/MWh $79.17/MWh
Idaho Power $84.72/MWh $79.19/MWh
PacifiCorp $85.06/MWh $79.31/MWh

The PUC proposed that where the Wind SAR is higher than the Gas SAR, a wind developer may choose whether to sell power at the wind or gas rate.  If the wind developer opts for the latter, it retains ownership of RECs.  If the wind developer opts for the former, RECs go to the utility.  However, when the Gas SAR is higher than the wind SAR, wind developers would only be eligible for the wind SAR, meaning that the utility would automatically receive RECs under a PPA.  Non-wind projects would be entitled to the gas SAR when the gas rate is higher, and RECs would remain with developers.

The PUC is accepting written comments on the straw man proposal until November 23, 2010.