Idaho Energy Update
Jan. 9, 2009
The Idaho Legislature returns to Boise Monday to kick off its 2009 session and to hear Gov. Butch Otter’s State of the State and budget address Monday afternoon. Also, the developer of a proposed nuclear reactor in Elmore County wants to delay his County Commission hearing on his rezoning request until April. Idaho Power has proposed a unique power sales contract with Hoku Manufacturing, which is building a polysilicon plant in Pocatello to produce materials for solar energy, and Woodrow Clark, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore in 2007 for his work on climate change, will be at an event at Boise State University Monday night.
For details on these and other developments, please read on.
Thanks as always, and if you have any calendar items, please send them my way!
Clean Energy Program Director
Snake River Alliance
I: Idaho Legislature Convenes Monday
The Idaho Legislature convenes its 2009 session Monday with the state facing serious budget challenges – but also plenty of opportunities to finally begin implementing key parts of the 2007 Idaho Energy Plan. While lawmakers are expected to look askance at legislation that carries a price tag, it’s expected that a number of lawmakers will be proposing progressive energy legislation that can enhance the development of renewable energy resources and efficiency and conservation measures in ways that won’t cost taxpayers. Idahoans have spoken loud and clear about their desire to have more renewable energy included in their utilities’ portfolios, not to mention new ways to conserve energy and use energy more efficiently.
It’s worth noting that despite claims they didn’t want the 2007 Idaho Energy Plan to gather dust, it’s beginning to do just that. Few elements of the energy plan – including several that are revenue neutral and that only require action by the Legislature, the Public Utilities Commission, or the Governor’s office to carry out – have been addressed. Many are designed to accelerate energy efficiency and conservation across Idaho. A copy of the Energy Plan can be found at: http://www.energy.idaho.gov/
Also, Gov. Butch Otter will deliver his State of the State address to lawmakers at 3 p.m. MST on Monday. You should be able to tune in on your local NPR station. Each week, the Idaho Energy Update will provide summaries and status updates of all energy-related bills in the Legislature.
II: Elmore Nuke Developer Delays County Commission Rezone Hearing
The developer of a proposed nuclear power plant near Mountain Home asked the Elmore County Commission to delay a hearing on his failing rezoning request from Feb. 11 to sometime in April. A consultant for Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., told County Commissioners that CEO Don Gillispie’s travel schedule prevents his attendance until this spring. AEHI suffered a serious setback in November when the Elmore County Planning & Zoning Commission voted 4-2 to recommend the County Commission deny its request to rezone more than 1,300 acres of prime Snake River farmland from agricultural to heavy industrial to accommodate the ill-conceived nuclear reactor.
The County Commission can accept or reject the P&Z recommendation, but the Planning Commission left no doubt the nuclear plant rezoning request was a flagrant violation of Elmore County’s Comprehensive Plan. The County has yet to set the date in April for the Commission hearing on the P&Z recommendation.
AEHI claims it is continuing its hunt for financing, but has yet to identify a likely financier for the project. Developers of reactors elsewhere report dramatic increases in plant costs – in some case double the projected number. AEHI has yet to purchase the property for the proposed 1,600MW reactor above the Snake River, and while its latest timeline calls for submittal of the application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the second quarter of this year, that isn’t expected to happen until much later this year.
We’ll keep you posted on the time of the Elmore County Commission meeting, and on how you can participate.
III: Idaho Power Proposes Unique Contract With Solar Manufacturer Hoku
Idaho Power Co. has proposed an unusual contract with Hoku Materials, the Hawaii-based firm that’s building a polysilicon manufacturing plant in Pocatello, according to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. Hoku will be producing materials that would be used in the manufacture of solar systems. Landing the $260 million plant was a coup for the city of Pocatello, which won out over Singapore for the Hoku facility. The problem is, Idaho Power doesn’t yet have the generation capacity to serve the power-hungry plant year-round.
According to the PUC, Hoku estimates it needs about 82MW of power year-round, and Idaho Power doesn’t have it and probably won’t until 2012, when its next big generation plant – a natural gas turbine – is expected to come online. To address the quandary, Idaho Power has asked the PUC to approve an energy sales agreement that for four years, or until more generation is built, Hoku would shape its demand during summer peak periods to reduce demand by doing such things as working on its operating systems instead of producing the product. In times where Idaho Power can identify additional capacity on the markets, it would make it available to Hoku at market prices.
The PUC is taking comment on the proposed sales agreement through Feb. 3. For more information on the filing, go to www.puc.idaho.gov and then to “File Room” and then “Electric Cases” and find IPC-E-08-21.
IV: Nobel Laureate Woodrow Clark at BSU to Talk Climate Change
Economist Woodrow Clark, who along with former Vice President Al Gore was co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will participate in the inaugural “Great Conversations” event at Boise State University Monday, Jan. 12, at 6 p.m. in the BSU Student Union Jordan Ballroom.
Clark is in Boise for next week’s Northwest Energy Innovation Summit (www.nwenergysummit2009.org). On Monday night, he’ll join BSU Vice President for Energy Research, Policy and Campus Sustainability John Gardner for an hour-long discussion on climate change, sustainability, and other issues.
“Unlike a traditional campus lecture, this venue gives the community a chance to engage with a great thinker who is making a difference in the world in a setting that encourages interactive discourse,” Gardner said. The public will be invited to join in the discussion, and the event is free.
On The Agenda:
► The Idaho Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on Jan. 12, 20, and 26. Agendas are normally posted the day before on the Commission’s website at www.puc.state.id.us
►Idaho Power’s Integrated Resource Plan Advisory Committee’s next meeting, which was originally scheduled for Jan. 22, has been moved to Feb. 3 at the company’s Boise headquarters. The meetings are open to the public and run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The committee is reviewing possible resource portfolios to help guide the utility on how it will meet future energy needs through generation and efficiency resources.