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Ken Miller’s guest opinion calling for action on climate change in Idaho was published in the Idaho Statesman on February 25.  He states, “In its draft Clean Power Plan, EPA assigned states greenhouse gas reduction targets. Idaho’s is a 30 percent reduction by 2030. Idaho has commented on the proposal, but fighting this coal plant plan or refusing to implement the greenhouse gas emission targets can lead only to significant legal costs and the federal government writing Idaho’s plan instead.  Idaho’s batting average in fighting federal regulations is unimpressive. It will only worsen if we resist a plan to address a problem our leaders admit already exists.”

Read on for the full piece. Read More

By Beatrice Brailsford

WIPP-Tour-Dates

Alliance WIPP Road Show Dates

Sites across the US Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons complex have sent more than 11,890 shipments of plutonium waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico, the only deep geologic repository in the country.

Far and away the largest shipper has been the Idaho National Laboratory. That’s because INL was the dumping ground for plutonium (or transuranic – TRU) waste from the Rocky Flats (CO) weapons plant, which meant the largest inventory of TRU waste ended up above the Snake River Aquifer. Before 1970, the waste was buried in unlined pits and trenches. After 1970, it was placed on a giant above-ground asphalt pad and covered with dirt. The Snake River Alliance has been among the strongest advocates of exhuming the buried waste because of the threat to Idaho’s drinking water. Read More

By Ken Miller

Utility scale solar arrays like this one at Shelby Farms Solar Farm in Memphis, Tenn., are expected to begin construction this year in Idaho and by 2016 will be delivering clean, renewable, affordable energy to Idaho Power and its customers.

We’re asked a lot these days if we think the state’s largest electric utility has it out for solar power.

That’s an unsettled question. We certainly hope not, but here is some of what we do know about what’s going on these days with what many are starting to refer to as “Idaho Power Solar Wars.”

  • Idaho Power filed a case at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that would for all practical purposes end for an unknown period of time the development of additional solar power contracts between solar developers and Idaho Power. Reducing the solar farm contract term for these projects from 20 years to two, as Idaho Power requested, would crush many future contracts, including many of those currently seeking pricing information from the company. The PUC has tentatively settled on a five-year contract term, and that, too, is fatal to most potential utility scale solar projects. Read More

As expected, the contest over the future of utility-scale solar power to deliver clean, affordable, and abundant energy to Idaho Power’s customers began in earnest on Jan. 30, 2015, with Idaho Power’s filing of a Public Utilities Commission case that has the potential to derail additional solar projects indefinitely.

This case is in its earliest stage. Idaho Power has myriad concerns about the amount of solar power developers seeking contracts – and some of them have merit. But we believe that this case is overkill and also could short-circuit efforts to resolve legitimate differences that could and should be discussed outside of the white-hot environment of a fully litigated PUC case. Read More

Despite the conditions referenced above, there is a bright side: The PUC has approved five solar power contracts with Idaho Power that would total about $322.5 million over 20 years and deliver a total of 100 megawatts to Idaho Power, which is no small thing.

“While stating that the projects qualify under federal PURPA provisions, the Commission’s order expresses concern that the federal law may be compelling utilities to buy energy they do not need,” the Commission said in a news release. “The order states that utilities should inform the Commission as to whether additional review of contract terms and conditions for federal PURPA projects is necessary.”

The order was issued in this case. And it pertains to other cases as well, since other contracts were part of the same overall docket.