Idaho Energy Update
Aug. 14, 2009
The Northwest Power & Conservation Council was expected to release its long-awaited draft 6th Power Plan for public comment and review Tuesday, but members from Idaho and Montana blocked the release. And the Office of Energy Resources is taking proposals from cities and counties to fund “renewable energy enterprise zone” projects, while Idaho Power is holding a series of meetings in Idaho and Oregon to answer questions about its proposed transmission line from Canyon County to Boardman, Oregon. Finally, AEHI filed its most recent quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and its outlook is shakier than ever.
For more on these developments and others, please read on.
Thanks as always, and if you have any calendar items, please send them along!
Clean Energy Program Director
Snake River Alliance
I: Northwest Power and Conservation Council Deadlocks on 6th Power Plan
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council (www.nwcouncil.org) was expected to release its long-awaited draft 6th Power Plan Tuesday, but the Council members from Idaho and Montana voted against the release and the 4-4 deadlock means the draft will not be released for an indefinite period of time. The Council’s Power Plan, which is prepared every five years, is designed to assess and inform the Northwest’s energy needs for two decades.
This particular draft drew wide attention earlier this week when a copy was supplied to the Associated Press, which reported that about 85 percent of the Northwest’s new power needs over the next 20 years can be met through conservation measures, with wind and natural gas resources making up the rest. The draft also said energy efficiency could reduce power use by a stunning 5,800 megawatts over that time frame. Conservation is already the region’s third largest energy resource, at 12 percent and behind only hydro’s 55 percent and coal’s 18 percent.
Following this week’s disappointing stalemate, the Council has yet to announce its next steps in trying to address the concerns of the Idaho and Montana members. Idaho members Jim Yost and Council Chair Bill Booth were both appointed by Gov. Butch Otter.
II: Office of Energy Resources Taking Proposals for Renewable Energy Zones
The state Office of Energy Resources announced today it’s accepting proposals from Idaho local government agencies interested in developing renewable energy projects in collaboration with renewable energy developers. Creation of OER’s Renewable Energy Enterprise Zones (REEZ) comes after the office proposed legislation in the last session to create the zones and provide a number of financial incentives to attract renewable energy projects. That measure was withdrawn due to concerns about impacts to the state’s general fund.
Instead, this REEZ project will use $1.5 million in stimulus money OER received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and an anticipated $2.7 million more the office expects to receive from the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program. The minimum award for renewable energy zone projects is $100,000, while $20,000 would be the minimum for studies, assessments and plans. OER expects the program will fund anywhere from two to 20 proposals.
OER said examples of projects that might be funded include studies of possible renewable energy production or studies to identify potential local sources of renewable resources for energy production as well as installation of anaerobic digestion systems at dairies, wood-to-waste energy projects, biofuels, wind, geothermal, solar and hydro projects.
For more information on the REEZ request for proposals or to review, visit OER’s website at www.energy.idaho.gov and click the “Stimulus” button.
III: Idaho Power Continues Public Meetings on Boardman-Hemingway Line
Idaho Power is holding a series of meetings in Idaho and Oregon to solicit comments on possible routes for its somewhat controversial Boardman-Hemmingway line, which would run from the proposed Hemingway substation near Melba to Boardman, Oregon. The utility decided to delay plans to build the transmission line after meeting strong opposition by government leaders and others in communities in western Idaho and eastern Oregon who complained they were not adequately notified about the company’s proposed routes and the lack of government outreach about plans for the transmission line. Responding to those concerns, Idaho Power backed up and launched a community participation process that includes local officials, residents and other property owners, and businesses along the line’s general route to seek comment.
Here’s a look at the schedule for coming meetings about the project. All meetings are scheduled from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and specific details about the addresses can be found at the website below: Aug. 19 in Pilot Rock, Aug. 20 in Boardman, Aug. 25 in Parma, Aug. 26 in Marsing, and Aug. 27 in Ontario.
For more information and to review maps and other information about the proposal, visit www.boardmantohemingway.com
IV: Idaho Nuke Developer Files with SEC, and It Doesn’t Look Good
Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., the developer of a proposed nuclear reactor in Elmore County on Snake River farmland, filed its Form 10-Q with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Friday, and the report paints a grim picture of a company in obvious distress just a week after it announced it’s looking for another county or even state lands for the project.
The company reached two big milestones, according to the SEC filing: It has now issued more than 100 million shares of stock (but has only $138,000 in cash or cash equivalents on hand to show for it), and it has run up a total deficit since coming to Idaho of $10.1 million. The report included this gloomy prognosis:
“We do not have capital sufficient to meet our cash needs. We will have to seek loans or equity placements to cover such case needs. Once exploration commences, our needs for additional financing is likely to increase substantially. No commitments to provide additional funds have been made by our management or other stockholders. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that any additional funds will be available to us to allow it to cover our expenses as they may be incurred.”
In a related item, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo was quoted in the Twin Falls Times News as saying AEHI CEO Don Gillispie may have been too enthusiastic in characterizing the senator’s pro-nuclear comments as quoted in an AEHI release. AEHI said Sen. Crapo’s response to a radio call-in question suggested Elmore County residents should pressure the County Commission to approve AEHI’s rezoning request (last week we reported on the State Department of Lands refuting Mr. Gillispie’s claim that the state had offered AEHI lands for the reactor). Here’s what the Times News reported on Sen. Crapo’s comments and AEHI’s backpedaling off its news release:
“While AEHI’s release interpreted Crapo’s remarks as a “boost” to the company’s efforts, Crapo disagreed slightly with such an interpretation on Thursday, telling the Times-News that he was trying to speak more to the role citizens play in local control than advocate for one specific plant.
“I think they kind of took it – they took it another step, I think,” Crapo said.
The senator also backed off from his statement about whether Elmore County residents support the plant, saying he’s received “sporadic” comments about the matter but not enough to be able to say firmly whether residents support the idea.
“It has not been all one-sided,” Crapo said.
AEHI representatives did not return calls from the Times-News on Thursday. CEO Don Gillispie stated in the press release simply that “Senator Crapo continues to show strong support for commercial nuclear power in the U.S. Senate and in Idaho while understanding the importance of local control in nuclear plant siting.”
AEHI’s SEC 10-Q can be found at: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1421874/000106594909000146/aehi10qjune09vfinal.txt
On The Agenda:
► The Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on Aug. 17, 24, and 31. 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 Idaho Legislature’s Interim Energy, Environment, and Technology Committee is scheduled to hold what may be its only meeting between legislative sessions on Sept. 1 and 2 in Room 204 of the Capital Annex. And agenda will be posted closer to the meeting.
►Idaho Power will resume its Integrated Resource Plan development process with a meeting of the Integrated Resource Plan Advisory Committee on Sept. 17. The planning process was recessed last spring and the Public Utilities Commission granted Idaho Power an extension until the end of the year in light of delays on a key Idaho-Oregon transmission line and the need to update the company’s forecasts in light of the current recession. The meetings are open to the public and are held at Idaho Power’s Boise’s headquarters. For more information on the IRP, visit: http://www.idahopower.com/AboutUs/PlanningForFuture/irp/2009/default.cfm