Idaho Power expects grid challenges due to heat, low water levels

Idaho Power expects grid challenges due to heat, low water levels


by Karen Zatkulak and KTVB.COM

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Posted on June 27, 2013 at 5:25 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 8 at 2:02 PM

BOISE -- With more than five days of  triple digit temperatures in the forecast, Idaho Power is warning customers about increased power usage.

Company officials say extreme heat mixed with low water levels can make it difficult to keep up with high customer demands.

The caution will extend summer-long, due to what is expected to be a very hot and dry season.


Phil DeVol is the Resource Planning Leader for Idaho Power. DeVol says water levels in the Snake River Basin are at 50 percent of average.

"You have to go back to 2001 to see flows as low as we're seeing this year," said DeVol, who told  us that's a concern Idaho Power has been addressing for months.

"We talk about projections on what kind of customer demands we anticipate seeing over the coming days, and as we're aware we're looking at a string of triple digit days coming up," said DeVol.

DeVol says when temperatures are in the triple digits, Idaho Power is forced to dip into storage reservoirs that are already low.

"It's critical that we draw from that reservoir only during those periods when demand is high and we store water in the reservoir during those off peaks periods and that's how we are very judiciously managing the storage in the reservoir this year," said DeVol.

Customers are encouraged to help take the strain off the system by keeping their homes cooler.


DeVol says you should keep your blinds closed, open your windows overnight, and use appliances like the washer and dryer during off peak hours, like the morning or late at night.

"So what we need to do is understand how that affects our demand and have our thermal plants ready to go and have our hydro plants ready to go," said DeVol.

DeVol says it looks like this summer will be worse than most since it's been so dry and we're already seeing such high temperatures.

He says anything you can do run your air conditioning less, helps the demand on the power grid.

While the Snake River Basin is lower than average, DeVol says the good news is that the Columbia Basin is at normal levels.

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