Idaho Energy Update
September 25, 2009
Responding to a shareholder resolution that it reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, Idaho Power says it will try to trim CO2 emissions by 10 to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2010-2013. Also, Micron Technology has received a $5 million grant from the state’s energy stimulus package to dive into the LED lighting business. And U.S. Geothermal marks a milestone in beginning development of its Neal Hot Springs project just across the Oregon line, while the Idaho Green Expo has posted several presentations from its successful July event for online viewing. 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: Idaho Power Says It Will Trim CO2 Emissions to Below 2005 Levels By 2013
Idaho Power and its parent IDACORP last week told their Board of Directors the state’s largest electric utility plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 to 15 percent below 2005 levels during the 2010-2013 timeframe.
In a news release and a related filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it intends to comply with the spirit of a May 21 shareholders resolution that calls on the company to plan for reductions in climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions. Idaho Power did not specify how it plans to reach that goal, but said it will rely heavily on maximizing its hydropower production, cloud seeding operations designed to squeeze more water from the skies for the hydro system, a new natural gas-fired power plant, and some renewables such as wind, geothermal and solar.
In a related development, Idaho Power’s Integrated Resource Plan Advisory Committee (IRPAC), which is advising the company on its biannual power planning roadmap, was told last week the company will strive to be coal-free by 2029 as it seeks to comply with expected federal climate legislation designed to slash greenhouse emissions. That legislation is still in the formative stages, but for risk-avoidance purposes most utilities are already planning for some kind of carbon-reduction regime as soon as next year. The company’s IRP Advisory Committee is in the process of reviewing possible energy “portfolios” that can help Idaho Power meet its future energy demands through such things as energy efficiency and conservation, new generation resources, and new transmission. That Committee has not been presented with an energy portfolio designed to reduce CO2 emissions on the scale the company claims it will achieve.
Company officials said they remain committed to complying with the May shareholder resolution, which called on IDACORP to craft a preliminary plan by the end of September to actually begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions, rather than simply slowing or stabilizing the growth of those emissions. Shareholders who surprisingly gained approval of that resolution say the only way to actually reduce Idaho Power’s CO2 emissions will be for the company to begin weaning itself off the three coal-fired power plant complexes in Wyoming, Nevada, and Oregon that combined provide more than 40 percent of Idaho Power’s generation.
In its news release, Idaho Power said it plans to reduce its CO2 emission intensity for the 2010 through 2013 period to a level of 10 percent to 15 percent of its 2005 CO2 emission levels of 1,194 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour. While Idaho Power is placing a huge emphasis on maximizing its hydropower output in order to meet that goal, the company acknowledges that for much of the past decade or more, hydro conditions have been below average. Continued sub-par water years will pose significant challenges to Idaho Power if it hopes to trim its reliance on its coal fleet. It will also raise the stakes for the company to acquire important amounts of wind, geothermal, and even some solar energy as it strives to reduce its carbon footprint.
To review Idaho Power’s news release, visit www.idahopower.com/newscommunity/news/
II: Micron Gets $5 Million in Stimulus Cash to Enter LED Field
Boise-based Micron Technology, which has laid off thousands of workers as it reels from a soft microchip market, has snagged $5 million in federal stimulus money from the state to help it move into the LED R&D and manufacturing business.
The Idaho Statesman and Idaho Business Review reported this week that Micron secured the check from Gov. Butch Otter and Office of Energy Resources Administrator Paul Kjellander during this week’s Idaho Innovation Summit at Boise State University. Micron Vice President of Process Research and Development Scott DeBoer accepted the money, which came from Idaho’s share of the federal stimulus grants aimed at energy programs.
Micron plans to use the $5 million to convert parts of its Boise campus from the manufacture of dynamic random-access memory chips on wafers to a similar technology used to produce light-emitting diodes, better known as LEDs. These new lighting products are considered vastly more efficient even than the compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that are quickly replacing old-style incandescent bulbs. Not only are LEDs more efficient, using a fraction of the energy required by CFLs, they also last far longer.
Micron’s DeBoer said the company plans to use the $5 million from the state to undertake further R&D in preparation for what the company hopes will be prototype production by 2010 and full production by 2011, according to The Statesman. The technologies Micron used to produce semiconductor wafers can also be transferred to produce LED products, which are likewise based on those wafers, DeBoer said.
III: Idaho Green Expo Presentations Now Available Online
The Idaho Green Expo has posted videos of a number of speakers and panel presentations made during the July 18-19 event. This was the second annual Idaho Green Expo, which is organized by GreenWorks Idaho (www.greenworksidaho.org) and like the first was heavily attended and had a strong emphasis on renewable energy and energy efficiency products and technologies.
Included in the videos of the 2009 Expo Speakers and Panels are: A Mayor’s Panel: Implementing the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in Idaho; David Wann: “Simple Prosperity in the New Economy”; Idaho Energy Forum; Judy Wicks: “Local Living Economies – Green, Fair and Fun”; Scott Schleibe: “The Fate of Polar Bears in a Changing Environment”; and Jim Evanoff: “Greening Our National Parks – Yellowstone: A Success Story!”
To learn more about the Idaho Green Expo and to check out the videos of the presentations, visit www.idahogreenexpo.org
IV: U.S. Geothermal Begins Exploration at Neal Hot Springs
Boise-based U.S. Geothermal said this week it has begun development drilling at the Neal Hot Springs Geothermal Project in eastern Oregon at a 10-square-mile site about 90 miles northwest of Boise. The company hopes the project will produce about 26MW of power once developed. U.S. Geothermal is already selling more than 10MW of geothermal power from its Raft River site near Malta to Idaho Power, and plans to sell a similar amount from Raft River to Eugene Water and Electric Board in Oregon. Raft River is the first commercial-scale geothermal generation project in the Northwest.
At Neal Hot Springs, U.S. Geothermal said the first well is currently drilled to about 300 feet on the way to a total depth of about 2,800 feet. A total of three large-diameter wells are planned in the current project, the company said.
“Further definition of the Neal Hot Springs geothermal resource is a significant part of our company’s growth plan, U.S. Geothermal President and CEO Daniel Kunz said in a news release. “These drilling programs are expected to maintain our current project development schedule and help define a geothermal reservoir needed to construct a power plant that will deliver 22 megawatts of electricity.” In Idaho, a megawatt is roughly enough power to supply about 700-800 homes or more, depending on the season.
For more information about U.S. Geothermal, visit www.usgeothermal.com
V: Idaho Power Announces Executive Promotions
Idaho Power and IDACORP this week announced a number of changes to its executive team, effective Oct. 1.
Darrel Anderson, the companies’ senior vice president of Administrative Services and chief financial officer, becomes executive vice president of Administrative Services and CFO. Dan Minor, the senior vice president of Delivery, becomes executive vice president of Operations. Lisa Grow, vice president of Delivery Engineering and Operations, becomes senior vice president of Power Supply. And Vern Porter, general manager of Power Supply, replaces Grow as vice president of Delivery Engineering and Operations. More information can be found at Idaho Power’s newsroom site at www.idahopower.com/newscommunity/news/mediacenter/newsreleases
On The Agenda:
► The Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on Sept. 28 and Oct. 5, 19, and 26. 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 Council on Industry and the Environment and Idaho National Laboratory will hold a conference, “Practical Paths to Reliable Electricity” Sept. 29-30 at the Airport Holiday Inn in Boise. Sessions cover such issues as future regulatory frameworks; the use of traditional resources; the use of renewable resources; transmission; federal reliability standards; and a look at how they all come together.
The event is $50 for pre-registration (before Sept. 23), or $75 at the door. For more information, visit www.icie.org
► The Northwest Power and Conservation Council continues to firm up its public hearing schedule for its recently released draft 6th Power Plan, which is intended to serve as a roadmap for the Pacific Northwest’s electric energy needs over the next two decades. The Council will hold a public hearing in Boise on Oct. 13 at the JR Williams Building (the Hall of Mirrors) at 700 W. State Street from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will also hold a meeting in Idaho Falls on Oct. 14, but the time and location had not been announced. For more information about the Power Council and to review the draft 6th Power Plan, visit www.nwppc.org
► Speaking of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, the Council’s next monthly meeting will be Oct. 7-8 at the Sun Valley Resort. On Oct. 7, the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Committee and the Power Committee will meet at 9 a.m. The Power Committee’s agenda includes a discussion of California’s wind policy’s impacts on the Northwest and other issues. The full Council will then meet in the afternoon, with an agenda that includes a panel presentation by the Idaho Consumer-Owned Utilities Association and a presentation by Bonneville Power Administration Administrator Steve Wright and representatives from the Bureau of Reclamation and NOAA Fisheries. On Oct. 8, the Council’s agenda includes an update on the 6th Power Plan and an update on the Idaho sockeye recovery program. For more information and details on the Council’s Idaho meeting, visit www.nwppc.org