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Utility Terms

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Agricultural Irrigation Service

Agricultural use customers on Rate Schedule 24, operating water pumping or water delivery systems to irrigate agricultural crops or pastures.

Ampere

The unit of measurement of electrical current produced in a circuit by 1 volt acting through a resistance of 1 ohm.

Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

AMI is state-of-the-art technology enabling utility companies to read electric meters remotely and capture real-time energy usage data.

 

Baseload

The minimum amount of electric power delivered or required over a given period of time at a steady rate.

Btu (British Thermal Unit)

A standard unit for measuring the quantity of heat energy equal to the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit.

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Capacity

The capability to generate electrical power, measured in megawatts (MW) or kilowatts (kW).

Commercial

The commercial sector is generally defined as non-manufacturing business establishments, including hotels, motels, restaurants, wholesale businesses, retail stores, and health, social, and educational institutions.

Demand

The amount of electricity drawn from an electric power system at a given instant in time, generally measured in MW or kW.

Demand-Side Management (DSM)

The planning, implementation, and monitoring of utility activities designed to encourage consumers to modify patterns of electricity usage, including the timing and level of electricity demand.

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Distribution

The delivery of electricity to retail customers (including homes, businesses, etc.).

Distribution System

The poles, wires, and transformers used to deliver electric energy from a power company to the customer. The distribution system begins at the substation and ends at the service entrance of the home or business.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

A federal regulatory agency within the Department of Energy having jurisdiction over interstate electricity sales, wholesale electric rates, hydroelectric licensing, natural gas pricing, oil pipeline rates, and gas pipeline certification.

Generator Interconnection

Generators of wind or solar energy who then connect to Idaho Power’s electrical system with the intention of selling that power back to the utility. This is also known as Net Metering.

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Green Power

Electricity that is produced from environmentally-friendly sources than traditional electricity. Green power is usually defined as renewable energy that comes from sources like wind, solar, biomass energy, etc.

Grid

An interconnected system of electric cables and power stations that distributes electricity over a large area.

Hydroelectric Plant

A plant in which the turbine generators are driven by falling water.

Idaho Public Utilities Commission

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) and the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) regulate Idaho Power’s rates, service, accounting and other general matters of utility operation. By law, the company’s activities in these areas must comply with rules and regulations overseen by these commissions. Also, changes to rates and utility operations that affect our customers must go through regulatory proceedings before they can be put into effect.

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Integrated Resource Plan

A comprehensive plan outlining present and future demands for electricity, as well as how the company plans to meet those demands. The IRP describes the company’s projected need for additional electricity and the resources necessary to meet that need while balancing reliability, environmental concerns, efficiency and low cost.

Kilowatt (kW)

kW = kilowatt. A unit of measure of the amount of electricity needed to operate given equipment. One kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts. On a hot summer afternoon a typical home, with central air conditioning and other equipment in use, might have a demand of four kW. The peak load for a typical home might reach nine or 10 kW when several appliances are running at the same time.

kWh

The most commonly-used unit of measure telling the amount of electricity consumed over time. For example, if you operate a 1,000-watt microwave for one hour, or if you operate a 100-watt light bulb for 10 hours, each will use one kilowatt-hour of electricity.

Large General Service

Service delivered through one meter with usages over 2,000 kWh and demand less than 1,000 kW per month. Large General Service customers are on Rate Schedule 9.

Large Power Service

Service delivered through one meter for customers who register a metered demand of 1,000 kW or more.  Customers requiring greater than 25,000 kW must sign a Special Contract. Large Power Service customers are on Rate Schedule 19.

Load

The amount of electric power delivered or required at any specific point or points on a system. The requirement originates at the energy-consuming equipment of the consumers.

Load Management

Shifting of electricity use from periods of high demand to periods of low demand.

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Megawatt (MW)

One million watts, or 1,000 kilowatts – is enough electricity to light 10,000 light bulbs (100-watts each) or 36,000 energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (28-watts each). Over one year, one MW is enough electricity to meet the average load requirements for about 670 homes. However, during peak times – very hot or cold weather – one MW will power fewer than 300 homes.

Meter

A device used to measure, display, and record the amount of power used by a customer.

Net Metering

A consumer’s ability to generate his or her own wind or solar energy, and then sell that power back to the utility.

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Off-peak

Those hours or other periods defined as periods of lower electrical demand.

On-peak

Those hours or other periods defined as periods of higher electrical demand.

Oregon Public Utility Commission

The Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) and the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) regulate Idaho Power’s rates, service, accounting and other general matters of utility operation. By law, the company’s activities in these areas must comply with rules and regulations overseen by these commissions. Also, changes to rates and utility operations that affect our customers must go through regulatory proceedings before they can be put into effect.

Outage

The period during which a generating unit, transmission line, or other facility is out of service.

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Peak Demand

The maximum load during a specified period of time such as a day, month or year.

Power Cost Adjustment (PCA)

The annual Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) reflects changes in the company's costs of producing and buying power. Each spring the company files this cost adjustment information with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission and it is implemented on June 1 through a change in customers' rates.

Public Utility

A business enterprise rendering a service considered essential to the public and, as such, subject to regulation.

Relicensing

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) grants licenses for hydropower projects for a period anywhere from 30 to 50 years. Licenses define how projects may operate for power generation and include provisions that benefit the public and the environment.

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Residential

The residential sector is defined as private household establishments which consume energy primarily for space heating, water heating, air conditioning, lighting, refrigeration, cooking, clothes drying, home electronics and home office equipment. Apartment houses are also included.

Rotational Outage

A temporary and scheduled electric outage lasting about two hours, depending on circumstances. Idaho Power would manage and rotate the outages to protect the overall electric system. Rotational outages are emergency outages caused by inadequate power supplies or equipment failure.

Small General Service

Service delivered through one meter with usage up to 2,000 kWh per month. These customers come under Rate Schedule 7.

Substation

Facility equipment that switches, changes, or regulates electric voltage.

Thermal Generation

Relies on heat to create steam to generate electricity. Idaho Power is part owner of three coal-fired power plants: Jim Bridger in Wyoming, Boardman in Oregon and Valmy in Nevada. These modern facilities are a vital piece of Idaho Power's generation mix. We also own and operate two natural gas-fired power plants, mostly used to meet demand during peak usage periods.

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Time-of-Use Rates

Billing system whereby customers pay different charges for electricity used during different times. The price might vary depending on the time of day, week, season, or year, or even depending on the hourly market price of electricity.

Transmission Line

Power lines normally used to carry high voltage electricity which can be "stepped down" for distribution to individual customers.

Transformer

A device used to lower or raise voltage. A distribution transformer lowers line voltage from 14,400 to 120/240 volts before the electricity enters a home.

Watt

The practical unit of power defined as the rate at which energy is delivered or consumed. The basic unit for measuring the power used by an electrical device.

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For additional electrical terms, visit The Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration Electricity Terms.

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