Idaho Energy Update
March 28, 2008

The 2008 Idaho Legislature is all but adjourned, and with no further energy issues on the table this will be the final roundup for the Idaho Energy Update. Upon adjournment, we plan to send out a Legislative scorecard both for the energy legislation that came up this session, as well as a scorecard on how the Legislature, the governor, the Public Utilities Commission and others charged with implementing the 2007 Idaho Energy Plan did this session in putting the plan into action.

Those who follow energy issues in Idaho will want to check out the PUC’s 2007 Annual Report, the links to which are below. And speaking of the PUC, the Commission has accepted Avista’s 2007 integrated resource plan, which has some good news and bad news.

See below for more information on these and other developments.

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 office
(208) 841-6982 cell
[email protected]

I: In the Legislature: It’s All But Over, and It Wasn’t the Best of Sessions
The Idaho Legislature will turn out the lights on the 2008 session in the coming week, and it won’t have much to show for it when it comes to addressing Idaho’s energy and climate challenges.

Few bills needed to be finished this week. HCR054, which is designed to promote renewable energy development on state endowment lands, was approved and does not require the governor’s signature. It calls on the governor and his Office of Energy Resources to “explore opportunities for the development of renewable resource energy generation on state endowment lands.” It’s a good idea so long as the energy development is environmentally sound. The state seems to be warming up to the idea of energy projects on state lands, as other legislation this session and last is designed to promote energy – and the longer-term contracts the projects require – on those lands.

Meanwhile, after approving the Office of Energy Resources appropriations bill (S1480), the legislators this week approved a trailer bill, H681, which directs money from the new Renewable Energy Resources Fund to the OER. Any time the state gets serious about funding its energy offices, it’s a good thing. The trouble with the newest appropriation under H681 is that far too much of the money is earmarked for such things as relocation expenses for the new office, reclassifying an existing position to a fiscal officer, and for legal costs. Once again, too little state money is being spent on actually doing what the state needs to do to develop a serious energy policy.

Here’s a look at 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
Energy facility, commercial purpose, endowment landsH0500 – Ch.115
Energy Resources Office, approp. . . . . . . . . . . . . .S1480
Energy Resources Office, approp, add’l.. . . . . . . . . . H0681
Energy savings performance, facilities, contractors. . . . H0556
Energy-producing materials, sales tax exemption. .H0561 – Ch.233
Geothermal energy electrical production, tax . . .H0529 – Ch.227
Major energy facilities, siting certificate. . . . . . . .S1293
Nuclear energy use, public advisory vote . . . . . . . . .S1289
Renewable energy development on endowment lands. . . . . .HCR054
Renewable energy resources, federal lands, funds .H0432 – Ch.206
Resources Office, collaborative report, energy options . SCR128
School building design, energy efficiency. . . . . . . . .S1412

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. Dead this session.
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. Dead this session.
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. Dead this session.
Sponsor(s): Sens. Clint Stennett, Kate Kelly, Elliot Werk, David Langhorst, Mike Burkett.
Contact: 332-1351

Green State Buildings (H422)
Requires new state-financed buildings and major renovations of existing buildings to exceed national energy efficiency codes adopted by the state. Provides for buildings that cannot meet the requirements. This bill has been significantly weakened, reducing requirements that state buildings meet 30 percent above minimum energy codes to now meeting 10 percent above those codes. In effect, it does not require anything from the state that the state is not already doing, and it does not include Idaho among the states that are setting a standard for their own buildings.
Status: Passed the House 55-11-4 on Feb. 7. Killed by Senate State Affairs in a 5-4 vote, but revived in a weakened form. Easily passed Senate and House and sent to governor.
Sponsor(s): Sens. Kate Kelly and Curt McKenzie; Reps. Eric Anderson, George Eskridge, and Donna Boe.
Contact: 332-1315

Office of Energy Resources Funding (H432)
Allocates most of the state’s share ($2.3 million) of recent BLM geothermal lease sales to the new Office of Energy Resources to help support the office’s operations.
Status: Signed by governor.
Sponsor: Office of Energy Resources Administrator Paul Kjellander
Contact: 287-4903

Energy Efficient Idaho Schools (S1412)
Requires school districts to integrate certain design and commissioning procedures for new school buildings to ensure they are more energy efficient.
Status: Introduced and referred to Senate State Affairs. Dead this session.
Sponsor(s): Sens. Elliot Werk (prime sponsor), Curt Mckenzie, Stan Bastian; Reps. George Eskridge, Sue Chew, Eric Anderson
Contact: 322-1000

Geothermal Power Plant Taxes (H529)
Replaces property tax for operating equipment at geothermal power plants with a 3 percent production tax, similar to that enacted last year for wind developers.
Status: Signed by governor March 20.
Sponsor(s): U.S. Geothermal, Inc.
Contact: 434-1027

Energy Resource Office – Reporting on Energy Options (SCR128)
A resolution requesting that the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the newly created Office of Energy Resources report on opportunities and steps the Legislature can take to meet the goals of the state Energy Plan, particularly regarding how Idaho can address future state, regional or federal greenhouse gas emissions targets, achieve conservation goals, and develop renewable energy resources in Idaho. The report will be due July 1, 2008.
Status: Killed in the Senate, 13-20-2. Voting against the measure were Sens. Steven Bair, Stan Bastian, Joyce Broadsword, Dean Cameron, Denton Darrington, Bart Davis, Russell Fulcher, John Goedde, James Hammond, Lee Heinrich, Brent Hill, Michael Jorgenson, Shawn Keough, Patti Anne Lodge, John McGee, Shirley McKague, Curt McKenzie, Monty Pearce, Mel Richardson, and Jeff Siddoway.
Sponsor(s): Sens. Kate Kelly, Clint Stennett, David Langhorst, and Gary Schroeder; Reps. Wendy Jaquet, Sharon Block and Sue Chew
Contact: 332-1351

Energy Facilities on Endowment Lands (H500)
Expands the definition of “commercial purposes” for leases on state endowment lands to include renewable resources, including fuel cells, low-impact hydro, wind, geothermal, biomass, cogeneration, sun or landfill gas as the primary power source of power for generating facilities of 25KW or less.
Status: Signed by governor March 14.
Sponsor(s): Reps. Eric Anderson, Bob Nonini, Lawrence Denney, Mike Moyle, Scott Bedke, Ken Roberts, George Eskridge, Frank Henderson and Cliff Bayer
Contact: 332-1000

State Production Tax Exemption for Areva Uranium Plant (H561)
Exempts a proposed uranium enrichment plant by French-controlled Areva, Inc., from the state’s sales and use tax. This is a single-company bill designed specifically for the foreign-owned company that is seeking the best tax deals among five states it is considering for its uranium facility.
Status: Approved by the House, 60-10 on March 5; approved by Senate 27-7-1; sent to governor.
Sponsor(s): Sen. Brent Hill; Sens. Bart Davis, Jeff Siddoway, Melvin Richardson, Steve Bair; Reps. Scott Bedke, Jim Marriott, Janice McGeachin, Dean Mortimer, Russ Mathews, Mack Shirley, Del Raybould, and Mike Moyle.
Contact: 322-1000

County Property Tax Cap for Areva Uranium Plant (H562)
Another Areva-specific bill would cap county property taxes at $400 million for a company investing at least $1 billion in a project.
Status: Approved by House, 41-27-2 on March 5; approved by Senate 23-11-1; sent to governor.
Sponsor(s): Rep. Dennis Lake; Sens. Bart Davis, Brent Hill, Jeff Siddoway, Melvin Richardson and Steve Bair; Reps. Scott Bedke, Jim Marriott, Janice McGeachin, Dean Mortimer, Russ Mathews, Mack Shirley, Del Raybould, and Mike Moyle.
Contact: 332-1000

Renewables Development on State Endowment Lands (HCR054)
Would promote the development of renewable energy projects on state-owned endowment lands. The non-binding measure “encourages” the governor, the Office of Energy Resources, and the Land Board “to work toward the development of energy production of renewable resources on state endowment lands for the purpose of maximizing the potential returns for education.”
Status: Approved by both houses.
Sponsor(s): Reps Eric Anderson and Bob Nonini; Speaker Lawrence Denney; Reps. Mike Moyle, Scott Bedke, Ken Roberts, George Eskridge, Frank Henderson, Cliff Bayer.
Contact: 332-1000

II: PUC Releases 2007 Annual Report
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has released its 2007 Annual Report, which can be found on the PUC’s website at in the “File Room” and scrolling down to “IPUC 2007 Annual Report.”

The 78-page report is broken into the various utility sectors under the PUC’s jurisdiction, including electricity, gas, water, telecommunications, and rail. It also includes a chart of all Idaho cities and the various utilities that serve them, as well as a map of service territories covered by Idaho’s three major electric utilities.

Of particular interest is the “Electric information” section, which includes highlights of PUC regulatory action covering the three utilities and the status of the utilities’ “integrated resource plans”, as well as trends and developments in Idaho’s electric utility arena and helpful breakout boxes explaining such things as the PURPA law, how the Power Cost Adjustment works, and others.

III: PUC Accepts Avista Resource Plan; Staff Says Consider Nukes
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has “accepted” Avista Utilities’ 2007 electric integrated resource plan – the biannual roadmap each regulated utility files in Idaho to outline plans on how it will meet future increases in electricity demand. In Idaho, the PUC’s acceptance of a utility’s IRP does not bind the utility to its plan, but rather indicates the Commission generally agrees with the choices the utility plans to make on developing new power and transmission resources and energy efficiency and conservation programs. Avista serves about 115,000 customers in northern Idaho, and has a larger presence in eastern Washington, where it is overseen by that state’s regulators as well. Avista also provides natural gas service, but this IRP covers only the electrical side.

Among the highlights in the new IRP are plans over the next decade to add about 350MW in new natural gas sources, about 275MW of which would come from the company’s Lancaster Generation Facility near Rathdrum. The company also anticipates acquiring about 300MW of new wind resources, 35MW from other renewable sources, and 87MW from conservation. As with Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power (PacifiCorp), Avista for now is dropping plans in earlier IRPs to develop new coal resources.

The new wrinkle – and one we can expect to surface when Idaho Power begins work on its 2009 IRP later this year – is a recommendation by PUC staff that Idaho utilities should begin looking hard at nuclear power to help meet future demand growth in light of coal being taken off the table. In its order accepting the plan, the PUC noted: “Staff opines that electric utilities should dutifully consider the potential for integrating nuclear energy into their long-term resource planning.” That should send a flag up for clean energy advocates to become more engaged in the IRP processes in the future, particularly given there is significant room for more energy efficiency and renewables development in all of the utilities future – enough to avoid the enormous economic, environmental and health risks of additional nuclear development.
The plan and related documents can be found at and by going to the “File Room” and then “Electric Cases” and scrolling down to AVU-E-07-08.

On the Agenda:

► The Idaho Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meeting on March 31. Agendas are normally posted the day before on the Commission’s website at

► William McDonough, winner of the 1996 Presidential Award for Sustainable Development and renowned expert on sustainable design, will be part of the Boise State University Distinguished Lecture Series on April 17 – just before Earth Day. McDonough was recognized by Time magazine in 1999 as a “Hero for the Planet,” and has collected several other awards and honors from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, and others. His lecture on “The Next Industrial Revolution” will be at 7 p.m. in the Morrison Center. Tickets are free, but on a first-come basis. Doors open at 6 p.m. and parking is free.

► The NW Energy Coalition’s spring conference and board meeting is May 30-31 in Helena. Go to for registration and other information, including the draft agenda.

► The Idaho Green Expo runs May 17-18 at the Boise Centre on the Grove in Boise. See for more information.