Idaho Energy Update
Jan. 28, 2008

By now, most of you have heard MidAmerican Energy has withdrawn its proposal for a nuclear power plant in Payette County. The company cited economic reasons for its decision, which leaves the Alternate Energy Holdings Inc. nuclear plant in Owyhee County as Idaho’s remaining commercial nuclear plant proposal. Meanwhile, a bill has been introduced in the Idaho Legislature to require new state-funded buildings to exceed existing energy efficiency requirements, and chances for passage appear strong. And Idaho Power has issued a request for proposals to acquire up to 100MW of new geothermal power as the company seeks to add more renewables to its generation portfolio. See below for more information and how to learn more about these important issues, as well as what’s coming up on the energy front.

Thanks as always,


Ken Miller
Clean Energy Program Director
Snake River Alliance
(208) 841-6982

I: MidAmerican’s Departure: AEHI Could Learn from Mr. Buffett
MidAmerican Energy and its newly created MidAmerican Nuclear Energy subsidiary announced Sunday they’re withdrawing plans to develop a nuclear power plant northwest of Boise in Payette County. It’s a prudent business decision, and one that Don Gillispie and his colleagues at Alternate Energy Holdings Inc. (AEHI) should heed as they continue their ill-advised scheme to build a nuclear plant on the shores of C.J. Strike Reservoir near Bruneau.

MidAmerican is the parent company of Rocky Mountain Power and PacifiCorp and is owned by Berkshire Hathaway and billionaire investor Warren Buffett. MidAmerican Nuclear Energy’s representatives told more than 400 concerned residents of southwest Idaho just before Christmas that the company had spent about $13 million to analyze the Payette site for the company’s proposed Idaho nuclear plant. That analysis wasn’t expected to be complete until this fall, but the company pulled the plug without waiting for the results on the grounds building a nuke plant doesn’t make economic sense in the current climate. We couldn’t agree more, and the blockbuster development raises another huge question for Mr. Gillispie and his underfunded nuclear startup: If one of the nation’s largest utility holding companies and one of the nation’s most savvy business investors have concluded that building a merchant nuke plant is too financially risky, what makes AEHI with its flimsy financial backing (its stock has been mired for months at 25 cents a share or less) think it can pull off an even more dubious nuke plant scheme in Owhyee County?

The answer, of course, is that AEHI can’t pull it off, and that’s something that will soon sink in as its investors absorb the wisdom from Mr. Buffett and MidAmerican and realize a 1,600MW merchant nuclear power plant in Owyhee County is not something Idahoans will support (70 percent of Idahoans surveyed by Boise State University say they oppose construction of a merchant nuclear plant in Idaho to meet out-of-state power demands), and also something that simply makes no sense from an economic, environmental, or energy policy standpoint.

Equally important for those following the AEHI proposal in Owyhee County, AEHI has exhibited indifference if not disregard for the people of Owyhee County and for the county’s laws. Unlike MidAmerican, which conducted itself in a transparent and business-like fashion in Payette County by holding a public meeting and agreeing to answer concerns from local residents, AEHI has violated Owyhee County ordinances by erecting towers on its proposed nuke plant site without required permits and has sought to limit public inquiries about its proposal. In fact, AEHI’s behavior in Owyhee County raises more questions than answers about the company’s plans and how it’s interacting with county officials. County residents – and all Idahoans – would do well to press their local and state officials about how they plan to oversee the company’s nuclear power plant application at the local and state levels.

The Snake River Alliance’s news release on the MidAmerican announcement is at

II: Legislature: House Energy Committee Introduces Efficiency Bill for State Buildings
The House Environment, Energy and Technology Committee last Thursday introduced legislation to require new state-financed buildings exceed national energy efficiency codes. A similar measure died in the same committee last session, but sponsor Sen. Kate Kelly, D-Boise, revised it to remove references to the nationally recognized Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards and instead refer to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). LEED standards cover a variety of building components, including water consumption and the use of sustainable materials, while the IECC focuses solely on energy use.
The bill enjoys the support of the GOP co-chairs of the Interim Energy and Environment Committee and is expected to pass. It requires new state buildings to best current busing codes by 30 percent, and it provides an “off-ramp” for some state buildings, perhaps prisons, where meeting the new energy efficiency requirements is impractical or too expensive.

Each week, we’ll post thumbnail summaries on where the bills stand. Text of bills can be found by going to the Legislature’s main site at and clicking the “Legislation” link and then “Legislative Topic Index of Bills” and scrolling to the categories in which you’re interested in. Such as “Energy,” “Environment” or “Utilities.” You then click the link to the bill for more information. The Energy section currently looks like this:

Energy Efficient State Buildings Act . . . . . . . . . . . H0422
Energy facility siting, construction moratorium. . . . . .S1314
Major energy facilities, siting certificate. . . . . . . .S1293
Nuclear energy use, public advisory vote . . . . . . . . .S1289

Here’s a look at the status of pending bills:
Energy Facility Siting (S1293):
Creates a state facility siting authority to review and approve or disapprove sites for large merchant generation facilities.
Status: Introduced in the Senate and referred to State Affairs; no hearing set.
Sponsor(s): Sens. Clint Stennett, David Langhorst, Elliot Werk, Mike Burkett, Kate Kelly, Diane Bilyeu, Dick Sagness.
Contact: 322-1351

Non-binding Vote on Nuclear Power Plants (S1289)
Amends Idaho Code Section 39-3027 (which prevents passage of state laws prohibiting nuclear power plants for generation without voter approval) by requiring a positive vote by Idahoans for nuclear power plants proposed in Idaho. The vote is advisory and not binding.
Status: Introduced in the Senate and referred to State Affairs; no hearing set.
Sponsor(s): Sen. Clint Stennett
Contact: 322-1351

Power Plant Moratorium (S1314)
Places a two-year two years to the soon-to-expire moratorium on permitting or construction of merchant thermal power plant – through April 2010.
Status: Introduced in the Senate and referred to State Affairs; no hearing set.
Sponsor(s): Sens. Clint Stennett, Kate Kelly, Eliot Werk, David Langhorst, Mike Burkett.
Contact: 332-1351

Green State Buildings (H422)
Requires new state-financed buildings and major renovations of existing buildings to meet or exceed national energy efficiency codes.
Status: Introduced in the House and referred to House Environment, Energy and Technology Committee; no hearing set.
Sponsor(s): Sen. Kate Kelly
Contact: 332-1315
III: Idaho Power Issues RFP for Geothermal Generation
Idaho Power Company has issued a request for proposals to companies interested in selling geothermal power to the company as it tries to add more renewable energy to its overall generation portfolio. Idaho Power recently signed a new contract with U.S. Geothermal to acquire an estimated 13MW of power from U.S. Geothermal’s new Raft River facility – the first in the West to sell commercial-scale geothermal power to a utility. U.S. Geothermal, which expects to expand the Raft River site, is certain to be among those interested in selling more geothermal energy to the state’s largest utility.
Idaho Power’s RFP says the utility anticipates acquiring between 50MW and 100MW of additional geothermal, and hopes to bring the new clean energy online by around June 2011. The company will hold a pre-bid conference on Feb. 22, and bids are due March 14. For more information on Idaho Power’s geothermal RFP, visit

On the Agenda:
► The House Resources Committee holds a print hearing Tuesday, Jan. 29, to decide whether to introduce a bill by Office of Energy Resources Administrator Paul Kjellander to create a “Renewable Energy Resources Fund” to provide funding for the newly created energy office. The meeting will be at 1:30 p.m. in Room 148 in the Capitol Annex (old Ada County Courthouse).

► The Idaho Public Utilities Commission continues to hold public hearings on Idaho Power’s proposed rate increase in light of the recent settlement agreement reached by the company and intervenors in the rate case. The company originally sought an average 10.35 percent increase in rates, including 4.5 percent for residential customers (an average of $2.86 per month) , 15 percent for small commercial, 13.1 percent for large commercial, 15 percent for industrial, and 20 percent for irrigators. That would have generated about $64 million. Under the settlement agreement, the residential increase would be 4.7 percent, with substantial reductions in other classes from the original proposal for a request of of about $32 million. The Boise public hearing was moved to Feb. 7 at the PUC offices in Boise. The other hearings are at 7 p.m. Jan. 29 in the Chubbuck City Council Chambers and Jan. 31 in the Twin Falls City Council Chambers. For more information and to review documents in the case, go to the PUC’s website at, click “File Room” and “Electric Cases” and find

► The Idaho Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on Feb. 4 and 11. Agendas are normally posted the day before on the Commission’s website at

► The Idaho Environmental Forum holds its annual Legislative Forecast meeting from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Hoff Building in downtown Boise. Panel discussions include “Moving Past Gridlock”, “Powering Idaho’s Future”, and “Paying for Growth.” For more information, go to

► The Idaho Small Business Development Center will hold a seminar on “The Business of Climate Change – Risk and Opportunity” Jan. 30 at the Boise State University Student Union. The event runs from noon to 5 p.m. and admission is $45. For the agenda and presenters, go to

►Federal agencies will hold a public meeting Jan. 31 in Boise to hear oral comments on the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on Energy Transport Corridor Designations in 11 Western states. The Draft PEIS is required in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and sets out proposed “energy corridors” to speed up the siting of pipelines and electricity transmission systems on federal lands in the West. Most of the corridors are located on Bureau of Land Management lands. Other meetings are taking place through Feb. 5. To learn more about the Energy Corridors PEIS and see related maps and other documents, go to