Idaho Energy Update
February 22, 2010

The Public Utilities Commission holds a workshop in Boise Thursday to discuss whether to create bidding guidelines for Idaho Power when the utility solicits bids for things like new generation plants. The PUC is acting in response to issues raised by unsuccessful bidders for the Langley Gulch natural gas plant after Idaho Power selected its own bid as the winner. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management holds a lease auction for 17 geothermal lease sites, including 10 in Idaho, in Salt Lake City today. And U.S. Geothermal reports work has begun on a federally funded “enhanced geothermal” research project at its Raft River site in southern Idaho. And we have the latest list of energy legislation in the Idaho Legislature.
Thanks as always, and if you have any calendar items, please send them along!


Ken Miller
Clean Energy Program Director
Snake River Alliance
(208) 344-9161
[email protected]

I: PUC to Examine Idaho Power’s Competitive Bidding Guidelines

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission will hold a workshop Thursday to discuss whether to create PUC bidding guidelines for Idaho Power in the wake of some complaints last year over the utility’s handling of the bidding for its $427 million Langley Gulch natural gas plant in Payette County.

Idaho Power selected a self-build option for the power plant, saying the move saved it and its customers about $95 million compared to the next lowest bid. But a group representing independent power producers asked the commission to review how the company handles its “request for proposals” for such projects. Idaho’s other regulated electric utilities, Avista Utilities in the north and Rocky Mountain Power in the east, currently operate under bidding guidelines set in other states where they operate, so this workshop will focus on Idaho Power’s bidding procedures.

While the PUC approved the Langley Gulch project, its members agreed the process could be more transparent, and that some potential bidders were not identified or chose not to submit bids because of the way the bidding took place, according to a PUC release.

“The actual and perceived flaws in the RFP process, we find, while not fatal to the company’s resource selection, clearly demonstrate a need for a separate proceeding to consider RFP competitive bidding rules and guidelines,” commissioners said.

The workshop will begin at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the commission hearing room at 472 W. Washington St. in Boise. For more information, including the commission’s order in this case, visit and click the “File Room” and then “Electric Cases” and scroll to IPC-E-10-03.

II: BLM’s Geothermal Lease Sale is Today

The Bureau of Land Management is conducting a lease sale today for parcels of land that are considered ripe for geothermal energy development in Idaho and Utah.

The 27 leases could continue to propel the Intermountain West’s role in geothermal energy development. Currently, Boise-based U.S. Geothermal is producing electricity at its Raft River site in southern Idaho for sale to Idaho Power and the Eugene Water and Electric Board in Oregon. BLM has conducted previous geothermal lease auctions in Idaho, leading to hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalty and other payments to the state and southern Idaho counties where the sites are located.
For more information on the lease sale, visit

III: DOE-Funded Geothermal Research Begins at Raft River

Boise-based U.S. Geothermal today announced work has begun on a $10 million federally funded project to study new “enhanced geothermal” technologies at its Raft River geothermal site in southcentral Idaho.

U.S. Geothermal is working with the Energy and Geoscience Institute at the University of Utah, APEX Petroleum Engineering Services, and HiPoint Reservoir Imaging. The team is examining thermal characteristics of reservoir rock 6,000 feet below the surface.

A key feature of enhanced geothermal development is that geothermal energy production may not require huge amounts of already-hot water below the surface. Instead, water can be injected into hot rock formations and then produce generation once it’s heated.

For more information about U.S. Geothermal, visit

On The Agenda:

► The Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on March 1, 8 and 15. Agendas are normally posted the day before on the Commission’s website at The meetings typically start at 1:30 p.m.

►The Idaho Public Utilities Commission will be taking public comments through April 15 on Idaho Power’s Integrated Resource Plan, which is the company’s roadmap on how it plans to meet future energy demands through energy efficiency and new generation and transmission. The plan can be found on Idaho Power’s website at or at the PUC’s website at and then “File Room” and then “Electric Cases” and scrolling to IPC-E-09-33.

► Lunch & LEED: Sustainable Business Practices, a brown bag presented by the University of Idaho Boise, is a monthly meeting designed for business leaders in search of practical solutions that will help businesses make a commitment to sustain ability and improve their bottom line by focusing on people, profit and planet. Meetings will be on the first Thursday of every month. The meetings are at the University of Idaho Boise, 322 E. Front Street in the Legacy Pointe room on the first floor. They take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. RSVP to [email protected] or by calling 334-2999. Bring your own lunch; drinks and cookies will be provided.

IN THE LEGISLATURE: Carbon Cap & Trade Opposition; Energy Bills Land in State Affairs Committees

The House was scheduled to take up a non-binding memorial by Rep. Eric Anderson that would put the Idaho Legislature on record as opposing a federal carbon cap and trade mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, three other energy-related bills have been assigned to House and Senate State Affairs Committees, where their fate is uncertain.

Each week, we’ll post thumbnail summaries on where the bills stand. Text of bills can be found by going to the Legislature’s main site at and clicking the “Bill Center” link and then “Legislation By Subject” and scrolling to the categories in which you’re interested in. Such as “Energy,” “Environment” or “Utilities.” You then click the link to the bill for more information. The Energy section currently looks like this:

Electrical Bd fees, state treasury deposits, when H0553

Electrical inspections, local government jurisdiction H0501

Municipal electric systems, authorized indebtedness HJR003

Municipal electric systems, authorized indebtedness HJR007

Renewable energy projects, expedite permits S1273

School energy system, construction, sale, bonds S1354

Common carriers, remove vessels/wharfinger/warehouseman H0575

Municipal electric systems, authorized indebtedness HJR003

Municipal electric systems, authorized indebtedness HJR007

New tariffs, justification finding, suspend, alter S1377

PUC, approp, add’l. H0406 – Ch.2
Public drinking water system defined H0451

Renewable energy projects, expedite permits S1273

School energy system, construction, sale, bonds S1354

Video service, franchise authority, regulations H0520

Here’s a look at the status of pending bills:
Expedite Renewable Energy Projects Permit Review (S1273):
Requires local governments and the state to expedite permits for renewable energy projects and to provide for public meetings on such applications in an accelerated fashion.
Status: Referred to Senate State Affairs on 2/25. No hearing set.
Sponsor(s): Sen. Kate Kelly (332-1351) and the House and Senate Democratic caucuses.

Energy Resources Office, 2010 Supplemental Appropriation (S1302):
This supplemental appropriations bill provides $25 million in additional spending authority from the federal energy stimulus program and another $262,800 to the Office of Energy Resources.
Status: Approved by Senate and House; awaiting governor’s signature.
Sponsor(s): Ray Houston, Office of Budget and Policy Analysis (334-4739).

Public Utilities Commission 2010 Supplemental Appropriation (H406):
Adds another $232,700 to the Public Utilities Commission 2010 budget from federal energy stimulus funds (Electricity Regulators Assistance Grant) to “increase capacity to manage significant increases in dockets and other regulatory actions resulting from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (AARA) electricity –related topical areas. Topical areas include energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy storage and transmission, and smart grid technologies.”
Status: Signed by governor.
Sponsor(s): Keith Bybee, Office of Budget and Policy Analysis (334-4739).

Resolution Opposing Carbon Cap & Trade (HJM11):
Non-binding memorial sends message from the Idaho Legislature to Congress expressing opposition to a federal carbon “cap and trade” mechanism to reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions. Memorial says cap & trade would pose a financial hardship on Idaho farmers and families.
Status: Scheduled for vote 2/23 in full House.
Sponsor(s): Reps Eric Anderson and George Eskridge.

Renewable Energy Systems in Schools (S1354):
Allows schools to build and operate certain thermal energy systems to produce hot and chilled water and allows schools to sell excess thermal energy to a willing buyer and use those revenues for a school district’s general operating expenses.
Status: Awaiting hearing in Senate State Affairs.
Sponsor(s): Sen. Monty Pearce and Rep. Lawerence Denney.

Municipal Utilities (HRJ007):
Would amend Idaho’s Constitution to allow municipalities that own their own power systems (there are about 10 in the state) to issue revenue bonds requiring a simple majority of voter approval to finance electric generation, transmission, or distribution facilities so long as those services are provided exclusively to the utility’s customers. It would also allow these municipal-owned utilities to negotiate long-term agreements with Bonneville Power Administration (their primary provider) or other suppliers without requiring an election.
Status: Awaiting action in House State Affairs.
Sponsor(s): Rep. Fred Wood and Sen. Joe Stegner.