Idaho Energy Update
July 11, 2009
The Elmore County Commission has sent a rezoning request for a proposed nuclear reactor on the Snake River back to the Planning & Zoning Commission, perhaps pushing further review of the project back a year or more. Meanwhile, next weekend’s Idaho Green Expo will feature the Idaho Energy Forum, which will bring key stakeholders together to discuss how to implement Idaho’s 2007 Energy Plan. And Utah’s IPP3 coal plant is officially cancelled, while the PUC will hold hearings on Idaho Power’s proposed Langley Gulch natural gas plant.
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: Elmore County: Commissioners Send Nuke Rezone Back to P&Z
The Elmore County Commission threw the proposed nuclear reactor atop the Snake River into more uncertainty when it refused the developer’s rezoning request and kicked the whole matter back to the Planning & Zoning Commission. Commissioners said they weren’t ready to approve or reject the request by Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., to rezone more than 1,300 acres of rich farmland outside Hammett, and wanted the county’s Comprehensive Plan cleared up before making their decision. The county’s Planning Department is in the process of a full-scale review of the Comp Plan, which may mean AEHI’s rezoning request could be put on hold for more than a year. At a minimum, the application won’t move forward for several more months.
Meanwhile, the Texas firm that AEHI identified less than a year ago as its new financial partner told the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it may restructure but for now “is no longer conducting business operations and is in the process of winding up.” The closure of Powered Corporation of Houston is yet more evidence that AEHI lacks the resources for the project. Last July, AEHI issued a news release touting its new relationship with Powered: “Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., has signed a participation agreement with Powered Corporation, Houston, Texas, to form a new company to jointly develop nuclear reactors worldwide, including Idaho’s first commercial nuclear reactor,” AEHI said in its release. “Assuming successful due diligence, the agreement is to be finalized in the coming months. Powered will contribute international energy leadership and initial funding, while AEHI will contribute its nuclear expertise and management team, including Don Gillispie as CEO. This participation agreement, among other projects, will form the basis for a final agreement to fund the federal application process and, ultimately, build a 1,600-megawatt nuclear power plant in Idaho to help meet our national energy needs.”
Powered Corporation Director Rafic Koussa filed a report to the SEC in which he said none of the securities subject to its SEC registration have been sold and that Powered might be restructuring. “Pursuant to the restructuring, the Company is no longer conducting business operations and is in the process of winding up,” Koussa wrote.
II: Idaho Energy Forum Coming July 18 During Idaho Green Expo
A first-of-its kind Idaho Energy Forum will be held next Saturday at the Idaho Green Expo in Boise. Here’s a release from the Snake River Alliance, the Forum’s sponsor:
Representatives from the Idaho Legislature, Gov. Butch Otter’s Office of Energy Resources, the Public Utilities Commission and a major Idaho electric utility will come together July 18 for a first-of-its-kind forum to discuss key energy issues in Idaho and how the state can begin implementing the 2007 Idaho Energy Plan. The Idaho Energy Forum is sponsored by the Snake River Alliance and will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on July 18, the opening day of the two-day Idaho Green Expo at The Boise Centre on the Grove in downtown Boise. The Forum will be held in The Grove’s auditorium, The Summit.
“This is the first time that these major energy stakeholders will come together to discuss the critical issue of implementing Idaho’s 2007 Energy Plan,” said Snake River Alliance Executive Director Andrea Shipley. “It’s clear that many of us share the same aspirations for a clean and sustainable energy future for Idaho, and this will be an opportunity for the public to engage with these important stakeholders on how we can move forward.”
Shipley said the two-hour Idaho Energy Forum will allow representatives from Idaho Power, the Office of Energy Resources, and the Idaho Legislature to explain what their respective entities are doing to help implement the state Energy Plan and then to address some of the Plan’s specific recommendations to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy in Idaho. The Energy Forum will provide ample time for the public to ask questions and engage in dialogue with the panelists, who will include: Ken Eklund, director of Legal Policy at the Office of Energy Resources; John “Ric” Gale, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Idaho Power; and from the Legislature Reps. Brian Cronin of Boise and Pat Takasugi of Wilder and Sen. Elliott Werk of Boise. The PUC’s representative has not been determined yet.
The Idaho Legislature adopted the Energy Plan in 2007 with overwhelming House and Senate votes. The Plan was created by the House-Senate Interim Energy, Environment and Technology after a year’s worth of meetings and was funded by a $300,000 legislative appropriation. The Plan contains dozens of recommendations on electricity, natural gas, petroleum and transportation fuels, and energy facility siting. While the Plan makes specific recommendations to the Public Utilities Commission, the Legislature and the Governor’s Office, many of those recommendations have yet to move forward, and the Otter Administration is asked to report back to the Legislature on the status of the Plan’s recommendations.
“There are some outstanding recommendations and action items in this Energy Plan,” Shipley said. “We agree with legislators who said when the Plan was adopted that we can’t afford to let this Plan sit on a shelf like the earlier plan that was prepared a quarter century ago. This coming Energy Forum will help breathe life into the state’s energy roadmap.”
The Energy Forum will be moderated by Sara Patton, executive director of the Seattle-based NW Energy Coalition, the lead clean energy advocacy group working in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. The Forum is made possible by generous support to the Snake River Alliance from the Edwards Mother Earth Foundation.
For more information about the Idaho Green Expo, visit www.idahogreenexpo.org
III: It’s Official: After LA Withdraws, Utah’s IPP3 Coal Plant Dead for Good
Developers of the proposed Intermountain Power Project Unit 3 in Utah have decided to let their air quality permit expire, killing the project and boosting the fortunes of renewable energy to take its place.
The decision by the Intermountain Power Agency comes after the city of Los Angeles affirmed it had no interest in buying the dirty power from IPP3, effectively killing the plant because Southern California buys nearly half of the IPP power. Los Angeles plans to eliminate all coal-fired power from its energy portfolio. That’s important because a number of public utilities in Idaho and Oregon, not to mention Utah, had planned to purchase power from the plant. The largest Idaho purchaser would have been Idaho Falls Power, which narrowly passed a voter referendum to buy the IPP power. Other smaller Idaho municipals and cooperative utilities also flirted with the coal plant, but most bailed at about the same time as the Southern California utilities.
V. John White of the Center of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies in Sacramento summed it up neatly in this quote in the Salt Lake Tribune: “The cancellation of IPP Unit 3 is really an indicator of a changing world. It reflects a changing need of power customers, increasing awareness of the dirty footprint associated with coal, and a strong desire to pursue a new, cleaner direction.”
Tips of the cap go first to the Sierra Club in Utah, which fought the air quality permit for the coal plant for reasons that included its obvious impacts on the visibility in Utah’s famed national parks. The NW Energy Coalition’s Salem and Boise offices also worked on the ground to kill the plant by killing its demand from local utilities. Countless other organizations, and tens of thousands of individuals, can chalk one up for a healthier environment. Congratulations to all!
IV: PUC Hearings This Week on Langley Gulch Gas Plant
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is holding a technical hearing and a public hearing this week on Idaho Power’s proposed Langley Gulch natural gas power plant south of New Plymouth near the Idaho-Oregon border.
Idaho Power has asked the PUC for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity as a prelude to building the 330MW power plant, which the utility says would serve base load as well as its summer “peak” load requirements. A number of parties have intervened in the case, and sought unsuccessfully to delay the PUC hearings until the company files its biannual Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) later this year. The intervenors have argued that PUC approval of the plant is premature in light of the company’s sluggish load growth, the lack of an updated IRP, and for other reasons. The utility argues the $427 million plant is needed to back up wind and other renewables and because it will be short of power come 2012.
The PUC will hold a technical hearing for the parties in the case beginning July 14 and running for up to three days. Meanwhile, a public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. July 14 at the PUC’s Boise headquarters at 472 W. Washington St. The technical hearing is open to the public, but participation is generally limited to the parties in the case.
The Commission will also accept written comments on the project through July 24. The PUC says written comments are given the same weight as oral testimony at the public hearing, and can be e-mailed by going to www.puc.idaho.gov and clicking “Comments and Questions” and filling in the case number, IPC-E-09-03. They can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.
For more information on the application and to review filings by Idaho Power and other parties, go to www.puc.idaho.gov and then to “File Room” and then “Electric Cases” and scroll down to IPC-E-09-03.
IV: Pocatello Turbine Manufacturer Gets DOE Loan Commitment
The developer of a new wind turbine plant in Pocatello has been offered a $16 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy, pulling the company over a key financial hurdle as it works toward completing the plant. Here’s the low-down from the Associated Press:
POCATELLO, Idaho—Nordic Windpower USA, Inc. says it’s gotten conditional U.S. Department of Energy commitment for a $16 million loan guarantee that will help it expand its plant in southeastern Idaho. The Berkeley, Calif.-based company is hoping to use the low-interest loans enabled by the federal guarantee to expand its Pocatello assembly facility.
Nordic makes two-bladed, utility-scale wind turbines that flex to mitigate negative effects of turbulent winds before they can damage the drive train. Tom Carbone, CEO of Nordic Windpower, says the expansion in Idaho will create 75 new jobs. The loan guarantees come as a result of incentives for alternative energy contained in the federal stimulus bill that passed Congress earlier this year. Nordic Windpower also has facilities in California, the United Kingdom and Sweden.
V: Idaho Power Updates Heating and Cooling Efficiency Program
Idaho Power says its Heating and Cooling Efficiency Program, which offers homeowners incentives to buy and install energy efficient heat pumps and evaporative coolers, is entering its second year, but without incentives on central air conditioners or tune-ups of existing equipment. The program offers a cash-back program for the purchase and installation of an energy efficient heat pump.
For information on qualifications for the incentive program and about heat pumps, visit www.idahopower.com/heatingcooling. Or call 1-866-692-9176.
VI: DOE Sends 1st Round of Weatherization Money to Idaho
The U.S. Department of Energy announced Friday it is providing $12 million in federal energy stimulus funds to Idaho to expand weatherization assistance programs. DOE’s weatherization program, which will be funneled through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to the state’s Community Action Partnerships, is aimed at families making up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $44,000 for a family of four.
Idaho plans to use this first round of DOE weatherization money to weatherize or re-weatherize nearly 3,200 homes over the coming three years. Priority will be given to homes with elderly or disabled occupants, those with young children, or those whose annual energy bills are more than 10 percent of their annual income. Once this first round of weatherization is complete and proven successful, Idaho will receive another $15 million.
On The Agenda:
► The Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on July 13 and 27. 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.
► Idaho Power has announced another round of public meetings on its proposed Gateway West transmission project, which it plans to develop along with Rocky Mountain Power. The schedule is: 7-9 p.m. July 9 at the Twin Falls Chamber Office; 6-8 p.m. July 16 at the Glenns Ferry VFW Hall; 7-9 p.m. July 20 at the Arbon Valley High School; 7-9 p.m. July 21 at American Falls High School; 7-9 p.m. at the Jerome County Office at 233 W. Main St.; and 7-9 p.m. July 22 at Gooding County Planning and Zoning at 147 Seventh Ave. East. The 1,150-mile transmission project is designed to run from southern Wyoming at Glenrock across southern Idaho to a proposed station near Murphy in southwest Idaho. For more about the project, go to www.gatewaywestproject.com