How new Idaho Falls power plant will impact customers' monthly bill - East Idaho News

How new Idaho Falls power plant will impact customers’ monthly bill

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See where the plant will be located in the video above. | Stock image

IDAHO FALLS – Construction on Idaho Falls Power’s $36 million peaking power plant will get underway this summer and double the city’s generation capacity.

The 17.5-megawatt plant, which is enough electricity to power between 5,000 and 6,000 homes, will sit on a 138-acre parcel off of Yellowstone Highway and Iona Road. It will run as needed during high energy use periods during the summer and winter months.

Idaho Falls Power General Manager Bear Prairie tells they’ve historically had to purchase power from the marketplace to accommodate increased usage at certain times of the year. The five hydroelectric generation facilities on the Snake River only produce about a third of the city’s energy needs due to growth. The new power plant will allow the city to generate more electricity during peak times and mitigate purchasing costs.

“As we go to the market to buy (power), we’re seeing extreme pricing events due to shortages of electricity (which is a result of coal plants being replaced by wind and solar). We’re becoming more and more concerned … that the market isn’t going to be there,” Prairie says. “We’ll turn it on when we can’t buy lower-priced energy from the market to meet those needs.”

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While the addition of the new power plant will not totally eliminate the need to buy power, it will keep the current monthly rate for customers more stable and consistent.

The city’s investment in its own energy production allows residents to pay 6.9 cents per kilowatt hour, less than half of the national average of 14 cents per kilowatt hour.

The plant’s location was selected based on industrial zoning, proximity to rail service, natural gas access, and the utility’s transmission and distribution system. See where it will be in the video above.

powr plant area pic
The photo on the left is a Google map showing the area where the power plant will be built. The photo on the right is a description of the plans. | Courtesy Bear Prairie

The plant’s footprint will encompass about five acres on the site and will include an operations center and a research and collaboration space for industry partners.

IFP will be working with the Idaho National Laboratory to blend hydrogen with the generated power to provide clean energy for consumers.

“In the event this facility continues to build out, we’ll have space to build a future substation if we need it. We’re also talking with other energy research and technology companies … to do other alternative energy demonstration projects and bring cutting-edge innovations to Idaho Falls,” says Prairie.

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Idaho Falls Power is entering into a power purchase agreement with the Idaho Energy Resources Authority to fund the project. The goal is to pay it off within the next 15 years.

ESI Construction, a Meridian-based company which recently opened an office in Idaho Falls, is the contractor for the project. The plant is slated for completion in November or December of 2025.

“There were some proposals to build this project that came from out of state. We’re excited to have ESI and the use of our local workforce (to build this project),” Prairie says.

Additional information about the project is available here.