Idaho Energy Update
December 18, 2009

Boise-based U.S. Geothermal has signed a contract with Idaho Power to provide up to 25MW of power from its Neal Hot Springs facility that’s being developed in eastern Oregon. Also, the 2010 Legislature is expected to review for adoption the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code. And the EPA has launched a resource-rich website to spur energy-saving measures in our homes. For more on these developments, please read on.
Thanks as always, and if you have any calendar items, please send them along!

Ken

Ken Miller
Clean Energy Program Director
Snake River Alliance
(208) 344-9161
kmiller[email protected]
www.snakeriveralliance.org

I: U.S. Geothermal Signs another Energy Sale Deal with Idaho Power

Boise-based U.S. Geothermal and Idaho Power Co. have reached another deal for the utility to buy clean geothermal energy – this time from the Neal Hot Springs project being developed about 90 miles northwest of Boise in Malheur County in eastern Oregon.

“A key milestone in the development of Neal Hot Springs has been achieved and we are pleased to expand our relationship with Idaho Power,” U.S. Geothermal President and CEO Daniel Kunz said in a news release. “With this (contract) we will deliver them a total of 35 megawatts of renewable power from two of our projects.”

Idaho Power is already buying energy from U.S. Geothermal’s Raft River project in Cassia County in south-central Idaho. This new “power purchase agreement” calls for the company to deliver up to 25 megawatts to Idaho’s largest electric utility.

Neal Hot Springs has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to participate in direct loan negotiations for up to 80 percent of the estimated $106 million project costs. The company also has a geothermal plant in San Emidio, NV, about 100 miles north of Reno.

II: Idaho Energy Code Update

The Idaho Building Code Board met Aug. 12 for the final of two public hearings held relative to the adoption of the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code, 2009 International Residential Code, and the 2009 International Building Code. A motion was made and passed unanimously to adopt the 2009 IECC intact. Consequently, a rule has been promulgated for submittal and approval by the 2010 Idaho Legislature. Once passed the code will take effect in January 2011.

At a subsequent meeting of the State Building Code Board on Oct. 20, the log home industry made an appeal for relief from the 2009 IECC. The industry has requested IECC code amendments recognizing ICC 400-2007 IS LOG as the governing code for log home construction.

The Board agreed that it was too late to amend the proposed energy code without delaying its implementation for another year under the new statute. The Board agreed to hold another meeting after the first of the New Year to address the concerns with the intent of passing a protective modification on an emergency basis with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2011, in order to resolve the industry problem.

On Nov. 30, the Division of Building Safety received an email from a State Senator representing the timber industry on behalf of the log home industry further addressing the concern. The summary paragraph stated, “I hope you will be able to give me better assurance that this issue will be resolved before the rule reaches committee stage or I may find it necessary to oppose it.”

The first meeting of the Idaho Energy Code Collaborative was held Dec. 2. The purpose of the Collaborative is to identify the scope, application and process of the code activities over the next four years that will lead Idaho to achieving 90 percent compliance to the 2009 IECC. Members of the collaborative include representatives from the State Division of Building Safety, State Office of Energy Resources, the Idaho Building Contractors Association, the Idaho Association of Building Officials, the International Code Council, Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, the Association of Idaho Cities, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and KEnergy.

The issue of compromising with the log home industry was discussed at length. A decision was made to send a contingency to northern Idaho to meet with three state legislators who represent the timber industry to discuss a solution that meets their needs without jeopardizing the state commitment to compliance of the Recovery Act for the purpose of receiving stimulus funding.

III: New EPA Website Loaded With Home Energy Efficiency Tips

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched Green Homes, a website to help make homes more energy efficient.

The site is at www.epa.gov/greenhomes allows visitors to click on parts of a home to link to specific energy-saving measures and improvements. It also has a number of links and tools to conserve water, choose green materials and products, reduce waste, and protect the health of occupants.

According to the EPA, the latest federal survey of U.S. housing reported 128 million housing units across the United States accounted for about 54 percent of the nation’s energy use and 31 percent of climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions.

On The Agenda:

► The Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on Dec. 21, and Jan. 4 and 11. 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 Public Utilities Commission is taking comments through Dec. 22 on an agreement between Idaho Power and various customer groups that would place a moratorium on new rate cases through January 2012 in exchange for a better chance to earn its allowed rate of return. The deal was reached between the state’s largest electric utility and several customer groups.

Rather than file a general rate case, the agreement calls for a freeze in general rate increases through the end of 2011. In exchange, Idaho Power would receive a share of the annual “power cost adjustment,” which reflects the company’s costs to generate power. Power cost adjustment cases are filed each year. In years of abundant stream flows that allow increased use of relatively cheap hydropower, customers receive a discount on their bills. But in times of poor water flows, customers pay a surcharge to offset the added costs of acquiring power. Under the terms of this proposal, Idaho Power would receive a piece of what is expected to be a large ($160 million or more) favorable PCA due to this year’s good stream flows.

In addition, the stipulation would allow Idaho Power to speed up its use of the customer share of the tax credits it receives on its capital investments. Those customer groups that participated in the agreement said giving the company a share of the expected PCA bonus is worth it in exchange for having stable rates over the next two years.

To review Idaho Power’s application and other documents in the case, and for information on how to submit comments, visit www.puc.idaho.gov and then “file room” and then “electric cases” and scroll to IPC-E-09-30.