Idaho Energy Update
July 25, 2008

Great news from Caldwell this week, as the Caldwell School District has broken ground on two new schools that it expects will be LEED-certified! While many Idaho school districts continue to build new schools the old-fashioned way, Caldwell is breaking trail in showing how energy-efficient buildings can bring huge savings, but also be healthier and more productive places to work and learn. Meanwhile, Idaho Power has reported on yet another sale of extra SO2 emission allowances, meaning efforts by the company and its partners to clean up their coal plants are paying dividends to ratepayers. And the Homegrown Renewable Energy Tour will be coming to Idaho in August! Read on for details on these and upcoming events.

Thanks as always, and if you have any calendar items, please send them my way!


Ken Miller
Clean Energy Program Director
Snake River Alliance
(208) 344-9161
[email protected]

I: Caldwell Schools Go Green

Try as it might, the Idaho Legislature has yet to figure out how to implement incentives and other measures to encourage the state’s school districts to build energy efficient schoolhouses. In the southwest Idaho city of Caldwell, which is quickly establishing itself as one of Idaho’s greener cities, the solution was easy: A green school building not only makes great economic sense, but also saves taxpayer dollars and creates a healthier learning environment for students and teachers. Here’s what the Idaho Statesman reported on July 23 about the great efforts under way in Caldwell, and here’s hoping other Idaho school districts have the foresight to follow suit:

Caldwell School District plans to build greens schools
It hopes two new schools will be LEED-certified.
The Caldwell School District expects to lower its heating and cooling costs about $200,000 next year because of energy-efficiency projects at its schools. And Wednesday, the district will break ground on what it expects to be Idaho’s first LEED-certified elementary schools.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a national, voluntary rating system that verifies a building is environmentally responsible and a healthy place to be.

Caldwell has worked closely with its architects and contractors to earn the rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. Its two new schools, Washington and Van Buren elementaries, will be 30 percent more efficient than required by the international energy conservation code that all public buildings must follow. Efficient heating and cooling systems, natural lighting, automatic electrical shutoffs and superior air quality will save taxpayers money and make the buildings a better place to learn, Superintendent Roger Quarles said.

“It just makes sense all around to take the approach we’re taking,” Quarles said. “We in Caldwell do have an interest in reducing the carbon footprint not only in Caldwell but the world.”

The two new two-story schools, built to identical V-shaped designs, are designed to hold 750 students in 71,767 square feet. District spokeswoman Jennifer Swindell said through their energy conservation measures, they will eliminate 54,740 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 20 years – the equivalent of planting 2 million trees or removing 10,040 cars from local highways.

The two schools will together cost $24 million. District voters approved a $30 million debt last fall to pay for them and for extensive renovations and energy conservation in existing schools.
McKinstry Co., the construction company working on the schools, estimated Caldwell will save $6 million in energy costs over the next 20 years. The district is also expecting to get about $450,000 back from Idaho Power’s utility conservation incentive program, which reimburses school districts for choosing energy-efficient construction methods.

The buildings aren’t LEED-certified yet; they can’t be until they’re finished, said David Naccarato, a McKinstry manager working on the project. But they will be, he said.
The cost of building the schools is comparable with more conventional construction going on in Nampa and Boise, Swindell said.

“Building green is becoming so popular that pricing is competitive,” she said.
The two schools will use building-wide recycling, and the buildings themselves will be used in energy efficiency classroom curricula, Swindell said.

Meanwhile, Quarles said the district is already budgeting $200,000 less for energy in the coming academic year because of the renovations carried out so far on school buildings.
Anne Wallace Allen: 377-6433

II: Idaho Power Has Another SO2 Emissions Sale: $3 Million In Play

Idaho Power Co. this week filed a report to the Public Utilities Commission claiming its sale of excess sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions totaled just under $3 million, meaning the PUC and other interested parties will need to huddle on how that money can be best used on behalf of the company’s ratepayers and the environment.

You’ll recall that Idaho Power and its ratepayers have benefitted in the past two years from the company’s efforts in cleaning up its coal-fired power plants, which have made it possible to sell government-allocated SO2 emissions allotments the utility no longer needs. So far, the Idaho PUC has decided to return about 90 percent of the proceeds from SO2 allowance sales to ratepayers and the other 10 percent to shareholders. Currently, there is an interesting case (IPC-E-08-11) that was created by the hard work of Bill Chisholm and the Idaho Energy Education Project, which has advocated that $500,000 of the most recent SO2 allotment sale (about $16 million) be used for energy efficiency and conservation education projects in schools in Idaho Power’s service territory.

A number of clean energy advocates supported Mr. Chisholm’s far-sighted efforts during a recent workshop at the PUC, urging the Commission to dedicate this small amount of money for energy curricula in our schools and also for clean energy projects. The Commission has yet to rule, but we have high hopes that it will determine IEEP’s proposal is a sound model for the use of these funds to foster a greater appreciation for energy efficiency and conservation among young Idahoans.

The most recent filing by Idaho Power does not propose how the funds should be used, but instead is simply designed to report that the money has been received. It will be up to the PUC in a future proceeding to decide how to best use these new ratepayer dollars.

To check out Idaho Power’s filing, go to the PUC’s website at and then to the “File Room” and “Electric Cases” and find IPC-E-08-14.

III: Renewable Energy Tour Coming to Idaho Aug. 11-17

We received the following notice from Rich Carlson at the Idaho Rural Council, and urge you to check into this important visit in August by the “Homegrown Prosperity Renewable Energy Tour,” which will include stops in Buhl, Hagerman, Gooding and Boise. Rich’s contact information, follows:

The “Homegrown Prosperity Renewable Energy Tour” will be in Idaho between Aug. 11 -17. The Idaho leg of the tour is being sponsored by the Idaho Rural Council. Here’s an excerpt from the tour website explaining its mission:

“WORC’s seven-state Homegrown Prosperity Renewable Energy Bus Tour is on the road. The tour is promoting good-paying jobs and income for rural communities and offering solutions to reduce greenhouse gases and pollution. The 12-week outreach tour offers solutions to reduce greenhouse gases; increase energy efficiency in homes and businesses; clean, renewable energy; small-scale cooperative biodiesel production; local foods production, distribution and consumption; and good-paying jobs and income for rural communities.

A four-person crew, traveling in a converted school bus powered by biodiesel, will visit 40 towns in Montana , Wyoming , North Dakota , South Dakota , Colorado , Idaho , and Oregon .Besides using biodiesel instead of petrol diesel, the bus is equipped with solar panels to power a laptop computer and a TV, and there is a solar oven and other displays.

“Our use of oil, gas and coal is changing the climate, leading to drought, wildfires, and other problems for people around the world,” said Jeanne Charter, WORC board member from Shepherd, Mont. “Our energy supplies are less reliable and more costly every day. Energy efficiency and homegrown, clean, renewable energy can reduce the pollution causing climate change while creating hundreds of thousands of good jobs and protecting our land, air and water.

“We call on public officials to pass laws and fund programs that reduce climate change and build healthy local economies by increasing energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy. We call on everyone – government, business, and individuals – to make wise decision as consumers, stop energy waste, and reduce climate-changing pollution.”

There are more details about the tour at:

With four energetic college students staffing the bus, we are considering canvassing with progressive energy policy literature in Boise. Our 501 c 3 status
limits our ability to do candidate advocacy, but we hope to be at the Boise Co-op of Friday eve. (15th), the Capitol City Farmer’s Market on the 16th and the “take out” for tubers and rafters at Ann Morrison Park on the 17th.

Earlier in the week we’re on a tour of U.S. Geothermal, hope to stop at several wind projects between the Magic Valley and Boise.

Rich Carlson
Idaho Rural Council

On the Agenda:

► The Idaho Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on July 28 and on Aug. 4, 11, 18, and 25. Agendas are normally posted the day before on the Commission’s website at

► The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service will be taking public comments through Sept. 19 on the multi-agency programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) to expedite geothermal leasing on federal lands. BLM and USFS held a workshop in Boise on July 21 to discuss their geothermal leasing program, and they’ll continue to solicit public input on issues that need to be explored as the agencies consider geothermal leases on western lands in the future. More than 50 people turned out for the Boise meeting – twice the attendance of any prior meetings! For more information, go to:

► The Idaho Legislature’s Energy, Environment & Technology Interim Committee will meet from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 17 and then from 8 a.m. to noon on Sept. 18 at the Capitol Annex in Room 204 in Boise. The agenda has not been determined; we’ll advise as soon as it is.