Idaho Energy Update
September 4, 2009
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council has finally released its 6th Power Plan, which helps chart how Idaho and the rest of the Pacific Northwest will meet our electricity energy needs over the next two decades. In Idaho, the Public Utilities Commission gave Idaho Power the green light to move ahead with its quarter billion-dollar natural gas plant, while Idaho Power also notified the PUC it will file its next general rate case later this fall. Finally, the NW Energy Coalition has a terrific new Efficiency Matters! website up, and the Small Business Development Center at Boise State University is offering FREE energy evaluations to local small businesses.
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: NW Power Council Plan Pushes Conservation; Falls Short on GHG Reductions
After an unexpected delay due to concerns expressed by Idaho and Montana members, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council on Thursday released its long-awaited “Sixth Power Plan” draft for public review and comment.
The Power Plan, which the Council prepares every five years to show how the four-state region and Bonneville Power Administration can meet future electricity load growth, contains strong projections for energy conservation and efficiency over the next 20 years. But to the dismay of clean energy advocates, it does not show how the region will begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions that come chiefly from the region’s fleet of coal-fired generation plants.
“Energy efficiency is the keystone of the power plan,” Council Chair Bill Booth of Idaho said. The Council consists of two gubernatorial members from each of the four Northwest states and was created by the Northwest Power Act of 1980 to protect Columbia Basin fish and wildlife while assuring the region has an adequate, economical and reliable power supply.
The good news in the 6th Power Plan is that it sets ambitious energy efficiency goals for the region, saying we can meet 58 percent of our new demand for electricity over the next five years with energy efficiency, and 85 percent of that demand over the next two decades with efficiency. The rest, the plan says, can be met mostly with renewable energy such as wind, and some natural gas generation. It envisions no new coal plants
The bad news in the draft plan is that it doesn’t lay the foundation for the region to truly begin reducing electricity-related greenhouse gas emissions, most of which come from coal plants. In fact, if the draft supported more efficiency and renewables, the region could begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions because those resources would begin to replace dirty coal.
So the ball is in the court of clean energy advocates. The Council will be holding public hearings around the region over the next two months to take public comments on the plan. Comments can be submitted via the Council’s website below, and we’ll keep you posted here with more details on the public involvement process.
The draft plan has been posted on the Council’s website. For more information on the Council and on the 6thPower Plan, go to www.nwcouncil.org. In addition, the Council has set a series of public hearings, with the Idaho hearings planned for Oct. 13 in Boise and Oct. 14 in Idaho Falls. Times and exact locations to come.
II: PUC OKs Idaho Power Gas Plan Request – Including Putting It In Rates
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission on Monday granted Idaho Power pretty much all it asked for in its request for approval to build a $427 million natural gas generator and the assurance it will be able to recover most of that cost from the utility’s bill-payers.
Idaho Power asked the PUC to grant a “certificate of public convenience and necessity” to build its 330MW Langley Gulch power plant south of New Plymouth – south of I-84 near the Oregon border in Payette County. The certificate essentially authorizes construction of the plant and gives the utility assurances it will be able to recover the cost from bill-payers in its rate base. A number of entities intervened in the case, including the Snake River Alliance, the Idaho Conservation League, the Idaho Irrigation Pumpers Association, Industrial Customers of Idaho Power, and Community Action Partnership of Idaho. The intervenors asked the PUC to delay consideration of the application, but that request was denied.
Idaho Power selected its own bid out of five proposals that were received to build the plant, which drew protests from some of the intervenors. Other concerns raised by the intervenors included the plant’s necessity wasn’t supported by its forecasted future load demand. They also said the company failed to explain how building a large natural gas plan comports with a May IDACORP shareholders resolution asking the company to develop a greenhouse gas reduction plan, and that the company delayed until December completion of its 2009 Integrated Resource Plan, which is supposed to plan how the company will meet its future energy needs.
To review the PUC’s order and related documents in the case, go to www.puc.idaho.gov and click on “File Room” then “Electric Cases” and then IPC-E-09-03.
III: Idaho Power Plans to File New Rate Case This Fall
Idaho Power Co. has notified the Idaho Public Utilities Commission that it intends to file its next rate case on or after Oct. 28, according to a letter sent by the utility to the PUC.
The company’s last general rate case was filed in June 2008 and was resolved last March.
In that case, the PUC eventually granted Idaho Power an average rate increase across all customer classes of 4 percent. The PUC granted the company $27.6 million in annual new revenues, short of the company’s request of $66.6 million.
IV: NW Energy Coalition’s Efficiency Works! Site Loaded With Cool Stuff
The NW Energy Coalition has launched its Efficiency Works! site to dispense all things efficiency to energy newcomers and professionals alike.
The site at www.efficiencyworks.org is a great resource for those looking for information on efficiency news and trends, case studies, state-by-state efficiency information and resources in the Northwest, and other tools that will be particularly helpful to the business community but useful for anyone looking to green up their home or business.
The NW Energy Coalition (www.nwenergy.org) is a Seattle-based alliance of more than 100 environmental, civic, and human services organizations, progressive utilities, and businesses in the Pacific Northwest, and includes several Idaho organizations. The Coalition promotes development of renewable energy and energy conservation, consumer protection, low-income energy assistance, and fish and wildlife restoration on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.
V: Small Biz Development Center Offers Free Energy Evaluations to Businesses
Here’s an offer Boise-area small businesses can’t resist: The Idaho Small Business Development Center (www.idahosbdc.org) is offering no-cost energy evaluations to local small businesses through a new program supported by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The SBDC says the program is open to retail, service, and wholesale businesses that own or lease their space within 20 miles of Boise State University. Trained students and interns will analyze utility bills, conduct an energy evaluation of the building, and provided a report on their findings. To sign up or get more information, go to the site above. In fact, it’s worth going there even if you’re not within 20 miles of BSU, as the site is loaded with green energy tips for your business. Now it’s time to figure out how to expand this invaluable program across Idaho.
On The Agenda:
► The Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on Sept. 14, 21, and 28. 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 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
► 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