Idaho Energy Update
June 20, 2008
It’s been a busy week on the energy front in Idaho. This week’s Energy Update looks first at the recent nuclear power plant “meeting” in Glenns Ferry, followed by a reminder of next week’s legislative interim energy committee meeting on Wednesday and Thursday, an update on U.S. Geothermal’s activities at Raft River, the BLM and U.S. Forest Service taking comments on the Gateway West transmission line and also a geothermal leasing program, the Boise Climate Protection Committee is finishing its work in recommending actions to reduce local emissions, Idaho Power’s application to buy energy from a new anaerobic digester in Gooding, and finally the Department of Environmental Quality’s posting of new greenhouse gas emissions data on its website.
AND DON’T FORGET: The Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free dinner at the Basque Center in Boise icks off at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, with dinner served at 6 p.m. It promises to be a great event with loads of information on how Idaho can be nuke-free as well as carbon-free as we implement sustainable energy solutions. We’ll have a room full of experts on renewable energy resources as well as nuclear. See the calendar section below or just visit www.snakeriveralliance.org
Thanks as always, and if you have any calendar items, please send them my way!
Clean Energy Program Director
Snake River Alliance
(208) 344-9161 office
(208) 841-6982 cell
I: AEHI’s Glenns Ferry Event Doesn’t Go Well; Alliance Sets July 1 Nuke Meeting
Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., held its second “public meeting” in a week Monday in Glenns Ferry, and the company that hopes to build a nuclear power plant in Elmore County was greeted by a skeptical full house with loads of questions about the plant’s safety, its waste, and its impacts on the mostly rural southwest Idaho county.
The meeting, at which AEHI President Don Gillispie limited questions to Elmore County residents, was disrupted when sheriff’s deputies entered the Glenns Ferry Opera House to handcuff and arrest Twin Falls podiatrist and longtime nuclear power opponent Peter Rickards on trespassing and battery charges. Audience members reacted to the arrest with outrage, given there were no altercations and that Rickards was sitting quietly in his chair at the time. It took several minutes to restore calm before Gillispie resumed his PowerPoint presentation only to face repeated questions about his plans for the power plant. More information on the meeting can be found at www.snakeriveralliance.
In response to the tightly controlled AEHI meetings and also in response to requests from local residents in Elmore and Owyhee counties, the Snake River Alliance has set a public meeting at the Mountain Home Library from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 1, to discuss the power plant proposal. Everyone is welcome.
Unlike the AEHI meetings the July 1 meeting will truly be a public meeting, and is being called to have a frank and open discussion of the issues that AEHI refused to discuss at its meetings.
II: No Agenda Yet for Next Week’s Legislative Energy Committee Meeting
The Legislature hasn’t yet released the agenda for next week’s two-day meeting of the Interim Energy, Environment, and Technology Committee, but as reported last week, the committee has decided what it will be considering. As soon as the agenda is released, we’ll send it to our lists, but in the meantime the schedule is for the committee to meet from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday.
Agenda items will include a presentation by Office of Energy Resources Administrator Paul Kjellander on the Idaho Energy Plan; a presentation by Don Gillispie (see above) of AEHI on his peripatetic nuclear power plant, most recently proposed for Elmore County; a presentation by the Attorney General’s Office on gasoline prices; a report from Idaho Public Utility Commission members and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council on assorted energy issues in the Pacific Northwest; and discussion on possible legislation in the 2009 session promoting energy efficient school buildings in Idaho.
For committee membership and to check the legislative calendar, visit www.legislature.idaho.gov
III: U.S. Geothermal Reports on Status of Raft River Plant
U.S. Geothermal said this week its Raft River project near Melba continues operations pretty much as planned, despite some small dips in power from original projections. The company’s project, which sells to Idaho Power, is the first commercial geothermal power plant in the Northwest, and the company expects to continue developing the site to expand production. It announced earlier this year its next phase will be producing power to sell to the Eugene Water and Electric Board. Here’s U.S. Geothermal’s most recent release:
U.S. Geothermal Provides Raft River Update
BOISE, Idaho – June 19, 2008 (AMEX: HTM, TSX: GTH) U.S. Geothermal Inc. (“U.S. Geothermal”), a renewable energy company focused on the production of electricity from geothermal energy, announced a project update on the Raft River Unit I geothermal power plant in Idaho. The net electrical power output of the plant is currently between 10.5 and 11.5 megawatts. With four production and four injection wells in operation, the maximum net electrical output achieved by the plant during March, April and May were 11.2, 12.0, and 11.7 megawatts respectively. The power plant operated at 99% availability during the same period, including scheduled maintenance.
A computer model of the reservoir volume, pressure and temperature has been completed by an independent expert and is now being used to investigate possible production and injection well strategies to increase power production and to evaluate alternative well locations and capacities. As part of the program to test the reservoir, geothermal fluid from the power plant is being injected into production well No. 5, which has resulted in increased pressure stability within other nearby production wells and improved plant performance. This injection test is ongoing.
Final “punch list” construction activities are still being completed by Ormat Nevada. Project operating costs have been higher than budget due primarily to winter startup issues, chemical treatment of cooling water, and environmental monitoring and compliance activities. While the production well issues are being addressed, the project is purchasing power for the production pumps from a third party.
The electrical power from Raft River Unit I is being sold under a full-output contract to Idaho Power Company. Under the terms of the contract, power prices vary by season, with lower prices paid during the spring months of March through May at 73.5% of the contract price, and are paid at 120% of the contract price during the summer and winter peak months of July-August and November-January. The remaining months are paid at the 100% price level.
The renewable energy credits contracted to Holy Cross Energy of Colorado have been registered with Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System so they meet the Colorado Renewable Portfolio Standard requirements. It is anticipated that the first payments due that have been accrued will be received during the current quarter and then payments are expected on a monthly basis thereafter.
About U.S. Geothermal:
U.S. Geothermal is a renewable energy development company that is operating geothermal power projects at Raft River, Idaho and San Emidio, Nevada and testing a new well at Neal Hot Springs in eastern Oregon.
Please visit our Website at: www.usgeothermal.com
IV: BLM Taking Comment on WY-ID Gateway West Transmission Line
The Bureau of Land Management, which recently completed a series of open houses to answer questions about the Gateway West transmission project proposed by Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power, is continuing to seek public comment as it evaluates right-of-way alternatives for the line from Wyoming to Southwest Idaho. The BLM and the U.S. Forest Service hope to receive comments by July 3.
More information on the project can be found at www.wy.blm.gov/nepa/cfodocs/gateway_west, where comments can also be submitted. Comments can also be submitted by mail to the Bureau of Land Management, Gateway West Project, P.O. Box 20879, Cheyenne, WY 82003.
The BLM’s Wyoming State Office and the Caribou-Targhee and Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests are taking the lead in preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the plan by the utilities to build a high-capacity transmission line for about 1,250 miles from western Wyoming to a substation near Melba, ID, south of Nampa on the south side of the Snake River. The line is designed to add capacity to existing transmission from Wyoming to Idaho, and to free up space on the existing line for possible addition of renewable energy resources.
The utilities hope to have the line in operation between 2012 and 2014.
V: Boise Mayor’s Panel Nearly Done With Climate Recommendations
The Boise Climate Protection Program Advisory Committee, appointed by Mayor Dave Bieter more than a year ago to develop recommendations on how the Capital City can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, is nearing completion of its work. The panel met Wednesday to iron out the last set of recommendations – these dealing with solid waste – and will next meet July 2 at 7:30 a.m. in the Ancell Conference Room on the 4th Floor of City Hall.
Mayor Bieter in 2006 was Idaho’s first mayor to sign on to the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, committing to a 7 percent reduction of 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2012. The Boise climate panel has already issued several progressive recommendations on how the city can slash emissions in various sectors. The mayor’s office is still reviewing many of the recommendations, and it’s expected the city council will begin reviewing them for possible adoption or other action later this year.
For more information on what Boise is doing to promote more sustainable practices, visit:
VI: BLM, Forest Service Looking for Comments on Geothermal Leasing in West
The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service have scheduled a round of public meetings across the West to hear from the public on its Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to promote geothermal leases on public lands. The federal agencies published their Notice of Availability of the Draft PEIS on June 13, triggering a three-month public comment period on various analyses and impacts from geothermal exploration or development on some 117 million acres of public lands (BLM) and 75 million acres of USFS lands.
BLM Director Jim Caswell (who many of you know as the former head of Idaho’s Office of Species Conservation) had this to say in announcing the Draft PEIS: “Federal lands in the West and Alaska contain the largest potential geothermal resources in this country. With the strong interest and support of state and local governments and clear direction from Congress, we are taking the next step in an aggressive program to make these resources available for responsible development to help meet the Nation’s energy needs.”
Of course, not all federal lands are appropriate for geothermal or other energy exploration. That’s why it’s important to review the DEIS with an eye to what it may mean for Idaho and our natural resources.
For more information, visit the BLM’s Geothermal Resources Leasing Programmatic EIS website at: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/energy/geothermal/geothermal_nationwide.html
VII: Idaho Power Applies to Buy Energy from Gooding Digester
In a first for an Idaho utility, Idaho Power has applied to the Public Utilities Commission to buy about 1.5MW of energy from an anaerobic digester that’s proposed to be built near the Big Sky Dairy near Gooding. According to a PUC news release, the proposed 20-year contract will be for power that should be available next Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2009. Because it’s a small-power producer, the contract with a firm identified as DF-AP#1 LLC will run for 20 years. Idaho Power will pay the “avoided cost rate” for the power, which is a rate equal to what the company would have to pay if it bought the same amount of power elsewhere. Right now, that’s about 6.68 cents per kilowatt hour.
The PUC will take public comments through June 27 on the proposed agreement. For more details and to comment, go to www.puc.idaho.gov and click on “file room” and then “electric cases” and scroll down to IPC-E-08-09.
The only other anaerobic digester with a contract with an Idaho utility is at Whitesides Dairy, where Intrepid Technologies and Resources is converting dairy waste and selling natural gas to Intermountain Gas.
VIII: DEQ Rolls Out Climate Change and GHG Inventory Data
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has put its projections for the state’s greenhouse gas emissions levels through 2020 up on its website, along with the agency’s internal plan for how it hopes to slash its own greenhouse gas emissions in the coming year.
The information, especially the document “Idaho Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Reference Case Projections 1990-2020,” which was prepared by the Center for Climate Strategies, is of particular interest. It includes a detailed look at Idaho’s electricity energy sector, and a breakdown of the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.
The site has a helpful explanation of the various kinds of greenhouse gases that Idaho is trying to reduce. Find it at: http://www.deq.state.id.us/air/prog_issues/climate_change/ghg_state_government.cfm
On the Agenda:
► The Idaho Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on June 23 and 23. Agendas are normally posted the day before on the Commission’s website at www.puc.state.id.us
► The Legislature’s Interim Energy Committee meets June 25-26 at the Capitol Annex in Room 204. The meeting on the 25th is scheduled to run from 1 p.m.-5 p.m., and the meeting on the 26th from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The agenda has not been set. See above for more details on items to be discussed.
► The Snake River Alliance holds a Community Dinner to discuss the national Carbon-Free and Nuclear Free 2050 campaign on June 25. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the event begins at 6 p.m. at the Basque Center at 601 West Grove Street. The Alliance will be rolling out the theme for the national Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free campaign. You’re encouraged to join the Alliance for a traditional dinner meeting. Call 344-9161 for details, or visit www.snakeriveralliance.org
► The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service will hold public meetings across the West to hear from the public on a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (DPEIS) to expedite geothermal leasing on federal lands in the West. The Boise meeting will be July 21 at the Boise Public Library and will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.