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Idaho Falls Power Completes Major Upgrade

04 May 22

Idaho Falls Power cut the ribbon Thursday, April 28, to signify the completion of a years-long vision to improve reliability and prepare for regional growth. 

The Paine Substation sits along the north end of Idaho Falls at North River Road. The new substation is part of a $20 million project to enhance Idaho Falls Power’s services. The city-owned utility officially launched the project 14 years ago in conjunction with a new Sugarmill to Paine 161kV transmission line.

“Maintaining stable, reliable and affordable power sources for our customers remains our top priority,” Idaho Falls Power General Manager Bear Prairie said. “This project is critical to those goals by allowing us to transmit power to our customers in areas of growth. The project also boosts redundancy for our Idaho Falls Power customers.” 

After years of planning and obtaining property, Idaho Falls Power began constructing the Sugar Mill to Paine substations transmission line in 2021. Idaho Falls Power teamed up with PacifiCorp (Rocky Mountain Power) to construct the line. Both utilities saw this transmission line would benefit each other to serve growth within the City and also outside of the City for Rocky Mountain Power customers in the area.

The utilities entered into an agreement where ownership and construction costs would be shared by each utility relative to their ownership/usage in the project. In addition to circling Idaho Falls to the north, Rocky Mountain Power will also build an additional line to improve service to their customers in Eastern Idaho.

“This project has taken countless hours from everyone at Idaho Falls Power,” Prairie said. “It truly exemplifies everyone’s goal at Idaho Falls Power to improve the lives of our customers through efficient and quality power utility service.” 

The line will provide critical transmission upgrades and service capabilities for Idaho Falls Power customers around the rapidly growing north and west side of Idaho Falls. The line connects the existing Sugarmill substation along Hitt Road and extends north across Lincoln and Yellowstone. The line crosses over U.S. Highway 20 near 25th, then travels to the west and across the Snake River.

The line then connects into the newly built Paine substation near Idahoan Foods and the Upper Power Plant off West River Road in the northwest area of Idaho Falls along the Snake River.

The substation is named in honor of Jeff Paine, Idaho Falls Power’s former chief engineer. Paine was instrumental in developing the Bulb Turbine and Gem State hydroelectric projects along with countless other resources that our community enjoys today. 

“This project is not the end of Idaho Falls Power’s continued improvement goals,” Prairie said. “Idaho Falls Power is upgrading old equipment daily to keep our customers’ service at reliable and affordable rates.” 

Idaho Falls Power provides some of the lowest-cost power in Idaho and the Country. Idaho averages 9.51 cents per kWh while Idaho Falls power sits at 6.25 cents per kWh. Nationwide, the average electric rate is more than double that of Idaho Falls Power.