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Idaho Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (8-ID-c)

Information current as of 2020
In Idaho, a person (developer) may need a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (Commission) for the construction or extension of any line, plant, or system. Idaho Code § 61-526. The siting of transmission lines in Idaho is not exclusive to the state government. Each local government has authority to adopt its own zoning ordinance and comprehensive plan; therefore, the siting of electric transmission lines may be regulated differently by different local governments. However, an order of the Commission, including the granting of a CPCN, may preempt any action or order of a state or local government agency in conflict with the Commission order, so long as the Commission has given the agency the opportunity to consult with it before entering the order. The Idaho Office of Energy and Mineral Resources has responsibility for energy planning, policy, and coordination of state and local siting issues that arise between state and local siting agencies.

The Commission regulates transmission siting pursuant to Idaho Code §§ 61-501–61-541.

Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity Process

8-ID-c.1 – Will the Transmission Project Have a Transmission Capacity of 230,000 Volts or More?

A Project may qualify for priority designation if it has a transmission capacity of 230,000 volts or more. Idaho Code § 61-516(2)-(3).

8-ID-c.2 – Application for Priority Designation

The developer must file an application for priority designation with the Commission. Idaho Code § 61-516(3).

8-ID-c.3 – Review Application for Priority Designation

The Commission will review the application materials to determine whether a priority designation is appropriate for the project. Idaho Code § 61-516(4).

8-ID-c.4 – Order Granting Priority Designation

If an order granting priority designation is issued, then any state agencies later involved in the permitting or siting processes for the electric transmission facilities must give the application priority or immediate attention as it relates to reviews, permits, reports, studies or comments. Idaho Code § 61-516(3). In determining whether a priority designation should be issued, the Commission will consider whether the proposed construction of electric transmission facilities will:

  • Benefit Idaho customers and the Idaho economy;
  • Improve electric transmission capacity and reliability in Idaho and the region; and
  • Promote the public interest. Idaho Code § 61-516(4).

8-ID-c.5 - Will the Transmission Project Be Undertaken by a Public Utility?

Idaho has a decentralized transmission siting system wherein local authorities have siting authority for all transmission lines. Public utilities must obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Commission. All entities must obtain proper environmental permits from the Department of Environmental Quality.

8-ID-c.6 - Will the Transmission Project Only Be for Interstate Transmission?

If the transmission project will only be for interstate transmission and not serve any end users in the state of Idaho, the project does not require a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Commission.

8-ID-c.7 to 8-ID-c.8 - Will the Project Extend Transmission Within/to the Utility's Service Area?

According to the Idaho Statutes: "No...electrical corporation...shall henceforth begin the construction of...a line, plant, or system or of any extension of such...line, plant, or system, without having first obtained from the commission a certificate...provided, that this section shall not be construed to require such corporation to secure such certificate for an extension within any city or county, within which it shall have theretofore lawfully commenced operation, or for an extension into territory whether within or without a city or county, contiguous to its...line, plant or system, and not theretofore served by a public utility of like character, or for an extension within or to territory already served by it necessary in the ordinary course of its business..." Idaho Code § 61-526

Therefore, if the utility is merely extending transmission in or to its established service area, a CPCN will not be required.

8-ID-c.9 - Initiate CPCN Process

Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity:

8-ID-c.10 - Consult with Local County for Other Requirements

All entities proposing to build transmission lines in the state must seek permits from the local authorities as to location of the lines. County and city planning and zoning commissions must adopt a “Comprehensive Plan” that includes an analysis of utility transmission corridors. Idaho Code § 67-6508(h). These plans, if they exist, can serve as the basis for siting transmission lines within the county. Entities should contact the city planner in the affected areas. Idaho Code § 67-6508; Idaho Code § 61-526.

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