Idaho Energy Update
June 10, 2010
Boise-based U.S. Geothermal has secured a conditional commitment for a $102 million loan guarantee to develop its Neal Hot Springs power plant west of Boise in Oregon, while Idaho Power is seeking approval of contracts for three more anaerobic digester power plants in the Magic Valley. Meanwhile, Idaho DEQ is taking public comments on Idaho Power’s application for an air quality permit for its proposed Langley Gulch natural gas plant near New Plymouth. And Jerome County officials may soon be considering a huge solar PV project on 400 acres near Shoshone. Thanks as always, and if you have any calendar items, please send them along!
Clean Energy Program Director
Snake River Alliance
I: U.S. Geothermal Nears Loan Guarantees for Neal Hot Springs Project
Boise-based U.S. Geothermal, Inc., said today the U.S. Department of Energy has offered a conditional commitment for a $102 million loan guarantee to develop the 22-megawatt power plant at Neal Hot Springs near Vale, Ore., about 90 miles west of Boise.
“This loan commitment provides our company with access to low-cost capital and is a major milestone accomplishment,” U.S. Geothermal President and CEO Daniel Kunz said in announcing the federal commitment. “Neal Hot Springs is close to transmission lines and is in a great location to serve Idaho Power Company’s customer base and the rapidly growing Pacific Northwest energy market.”
The Associated Press reported today this is the first such loan guarantee the Department of Energy has offered to a geothermal developer under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. DOE has made other loan guarantees, most recently a $2 billion guarantee to French-owned Areva, Inc., which has proposed a uranium enrichment facility near Idaho Falls.
Kunz said the loan guarantee will spur development of the second utility-scale geothermal energy project in the Northwest, coming on the heels of U.S. Geothermal’s existing power plant at south-central Idaho’s Raft River project, which is selling about 10MW to Idaho Power and has a contract to sell a similar amount to the Eugene Water and Electric Board in Oregon. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission in May approved a power purchase agreement between Idaho Power and U.S. Geothermal for an average of 22MW from the Neal Hot Springs project once it’s developed.
Aside from the $102 million in federal loan guarantees, which cover 75 percent of the total project costs, the company said the project will qualify for a cash grant of about $34 million from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
For more information on U.S. Geothermal, visit www.usgeothermal.com
II: Idaho Power Seeks Approval of Three Digester Deals
Idaho Power has asked the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to approve contracts with three Magic Valley dairies to purchase about 8 megawatts of power from their anaerobic digester power plants.
The PUC says all three contracts are with the same developer, Middleton-based Energy One, LLC. The 15-year contracts would be for dairy digesters at the Rock Creek Dairy project near Filer (4MW), the Swager Farms Dairy project near Buhl (2MW), and the Double B Dairy project near Murtaugh (2MW). All three projects qualify under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA), which requires electric utilities to buy power from small generators that meet certain requirements.
In this case, the power from the anaerobic digesters would come from the production of biogas created mostly from livestock waste. Idaho Power currently buys power from another Magic Valley dairy.
To review the cases, visit www.puc.idaho.gov and click “File Room” and then “Electric Cases” and scroll to IPC-E-16, 17 and 18. The PUC said it plans to handle this case without requiring a hearing, unless comments demonstrate the need for a hearing. To submit comments, go to the above website and click “Comments and Questions.” Written comments can also be mailed to the Public Utilities Commission at PO Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.
III: Large Wind Farm Proposed for Jerome County
A large solar farm has been proposed for 400 acres of land near the Mid Point transmission substation in Jerome County, according to the Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization. The Twin Falls Times-News reports Mid Point Energy, “whose partners include outgoing Twin Falls County Commissioner Tom Mikesell and Steve and Mary Marshall of Jerome, seeks to install up to 150,000 solar panels” on land owned by the Marshalls.
“This new renewable energy solar project in Jerome will be the first commercial project producing solar facility in southern Idaho,” the paper quoted Mikesell as saying. “Utilizing this land for solar power rather than other commercial development lends itself to Jerome’s agrarian community. The Marshalls, as well as myself, believe that expanding southern Idaho’s renewable energy sources with a Jerome solar plant will be an economic boost to this region.”
The release said Mid Point and its partner in the project, Boise-based Edgewood Green Technologies, are working with Idaho Power to iron out a power sales agreement. The project is currently before the Jerome County Planning and Zoning Commission.
IV: DEQ Taking Comments on Idaho Power’s Proposed Gas Plant
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is taking public comments through June 18 on Idaho Power’s request for an air quality permit for the company’s proposed Langley Gulch natural gas generation plant near New Plymouth.
The Idaho PUC has already granted Idaho Power the ability to recover some of the costs for the $427 million, 300MW combined cycle combustion turbine, which Idaho Power intends to run nearly constantly to meet the company’s ongoing load. Idaho Power says the plant is needed to meet future energy demands, and also to help “firm up” a growing amount of wind the company is adding to its system.
Idaho DEQ says it has determined the power plant won’t significantly harm the Treasure Valley’s air quality, but the agency is nonetheless interested in receiving public comments on the application.
To review Idaho Power’s permit application and related documents, go to: http://www.deq.idaho.gov/Applications/NewsApp/showNews.cfm?news_id=2983&CFID=32072&CFTOKEN=92319050
Written comments can be sent to Faye Weber, Air Quality Division, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality State Office, 1410 N. Hilton, Boise, ID 83706 or via e-mail to [email protected]
V: Low-Flow Showerheads Available
Idaho Power and various manufacturers have teamed up in a buy-down program to offer lower-cost showerheads at local retailers in the company’s service territory in Idaho and Oregon. Unlike other energy-saving programs, the showerhead discount does not involve rebates or similar incentives. Instead, customers will see in-store notices that the energy efficient showerheads’ prices have been discounted.
Because low-flow showerheads use less water, they also use less energy to heat the water. Idaho Power says today’s standard showerhead uses 2.5 gallons of water a minute, while low-flow devises use 2 gallons or less. To learn more about the promotion, visit www.simplestepsnw.com
On The Agenda:
► The Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on June 21 and 28. Agendas are normally posted the day before on the Commission’s website at www.puc.state.id.us. The meetings typically start at 1:30 p.m.
► The Think Outside the Bomb Tour is Coming to Boise.
Think Outside the Bomb, the largest youth led network for abolition in the US, will be in Boise on June 25th to help the Alliance build a grassroots movement to Stop Areva!
The Tour program includes musical vocals by Becca Riley, important info about the nuclear industrial complex, a radio active puppet show and information on how you can help start a movement for a nuclear free future. Come to Donnie Mac’s Trailer Park Cuisine (1515 W Grove Street, Boise) from 6-9 on Friday, June 25th to learn more.
Please RSVP by emailing [email protected] or calling 344-9161