Idaho Energy Update
January 27, 2010
Idaho Power and the Public Utilities Commission staff have come to terms on a process to screen energy efficiency measures to ensure they’re doing their jobs and that they’re cost-effective. Meanwhile, 13 lawmakers squeezed into Boise’s Red Feather Lounge this week for an Idaho Energy Collaborative luncheon to share ideas on possible energy legislation in the new 2010 session. Also, the Idaho Department of Labor announced the state has secured a $6 million grant to train workers in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other green vocations. Finally, as the 2010 Legislature gets going, we are resuming our legislative updates, although this year they can be found at the end of this update below the calendar. That way those with little interest in the Legislature won’t have to wade through it to get to the energy updates.
Thanks as always, and if you have any calendar items, please send them along!
Clean Energy Program Director
Snake River Alliance
I: Idaho Power, PUC Staff Reach Agreement on Energy Efficiency Measures
Idaho Power and the Idaho Public Utilities Commission have reached an agreement on how to determine whether energy efficiency expenditures were “prudent” – an important development since the company can only recover costs for prudently incurred efficiency spending.
Idaho Power’s filing with the PUC this week comes on the heels of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) reached in December but signed by the PUC staff this week in which Idaho’s three regulated utilities agree to submit more detailed annual reports about their energy-saving measures. Other parties to the MOU are Avista, which serves parts of northern Idaho, and Rocky Mountain Power, which serves parts of eastern Idaho.
Idaho utilities fund most of their energy conservation, or “demand-side” measures, through funds collected from bill payers – in Idaho Power’s case a 4.75 percent collection on bills in what’s known as an energy efficiency tariff rider. This year, that charge is expected to raise an estimated $30 million for Idaho Power’s various energy savings measures for residential, business, industrial, and agricultural customers. But in order to actually recover those expenditures, the companies must show they were prudently incurred. Idaho Power has had more than $14 million in energy efficiency spending awaiting such a determination since early last year.
In testimony accompanying his company’s filing, Idaho Power Vice President for Regulatory Affairs Ric Gale explained why the agreement is important to his company:
“Idaho Power has often stated to this Commission and over the last five year has demonstrated its commitment to energy efficiency and demand-side activities through programs, funding, and human resources,” Gale said. “Annual spending for rider-funded activities now exceeds $30 million. The company has ratcheted up its Energy Efficiency Rider several times since its inception and the current level of 4.75 percent of base rates is among the highest in the West.” Gale said any time that spending is not approved by the PUC, “it would reduce the earnings from the company’s other operations.”
The agreements are between the utilities and the PUC staff and do not bind the three-member Commission to future decisions on efficiency programs. The utilities and PUC staff agreed to use Idaho Power’s “2008 Demand-Side Management Annual Report” as a template for the new more comprehensive reports to be filed by the three utilities. That report can be found at: http://www.idahopower.com/AboutUs/PlanningForFuture/irp/2009/
For more information on this case or to review the MOU, go to www.puc.state.id.us and then “File Room” and then “Electric Cases” and then scroll down to IPC-E-09-09.
II: Thirteen Legislators Attend Idaho Energy Collaborative Lunch on Energy Issues
A bipartisan group of Idaho legislative leaders filled Boise’s Red Feather restaurant this week to discuss critical energy issues with members of the Idaho Energy Collaborative, a two-year-old group of nonprofit, business, government, education and other entities working to secure Idaho’s clean energy future through the promotion of energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy development.
The 13 lawmakers included seven Republicans and six Democrats, and included House and Senate leadership on committees that deal with energy issues in the Idaho Legislature. Several possible pieces of energy-related legislation were discussed, and most dealt with the Collaborative’s campaign to enact more recommendations in the 2007 Idaho Energy Plan.
“Legislative on the energy plan is wanting,” IEC Coordinator and Snake River Alliance Energy Policy Analyst Liz Woodruff said before lawmakers gave their views on how Idaho’s budget crisis may deter some energy bills, especially those that would create tax and other financial incentives for efficiency and renewables development.
A special thanks goes out to Red Feather and owner Dave Krick, who also owns the adjacent Bittercreek Alehouse and who provided meals made almost exclusively of locally grown and raised food. Dave is a member of the IEC, represents Sustainable Community Connections of Idaho on the Collaborative, and is one of Idaho’s most effective renewable energy and energy efficiency advocates.
The Idaho Energy Collaborative’s 2nd Annual Energy Lobby Day will take place at the Statehouse on the morning of Feb. 15. We’ll be based in the 4th Floor Rotunda. For more information, contact Liz Woodruff at [email protected] or call 344-9161.
Check out the Idaho Energy Collaborative’s blog at: http://www.idenergycollaborative.blogspot.com/
III: Idaho Secures $6 Million to Train Workers for Green Economy
The Idaho Department of Labor said last week the state has received a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor for a variety of programs to train workers in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other green business opportunities. The grant is part of $190 million distributed to 34 states to further job training aimed at expanding a “green economy.”
According to an Idaho Department of Labor release, the department “Will join with the state’s professional-technical educators, its colleges, the Idaho National Laboratory, the AFL-CIO and the federal Office of Apprenticeship to provide training for hundreds of veterans, dislocated workers, low-skilled adults and youths and other groups.” The department said some of these groups will contribute an additional $1.8 million in additional resources for the project. A big part of the grant money will go to acquiring equipment and other materials for worker training.
“The state will also strengthen its dual-credit program where high school students can earn post-secondary credits before graduation to the point of creating sustainable training programs that better prepare people for careers in so-called green jobs,” the department said.
IV: The Rap on Areva’s Proposed Idaho Uranium Factory
Clean energy advocate and Snake River Alliance volunteer Chelsea Curtin has composed a terrific “Stop Areva!” Rap with her take on why Idaho should look askance at the proposal by French-owned nuclear giant Areva, which wants to build a $4 billion gas centrifuge uranium enrichment plant in eastern Idaho.
The plant would be big enough to fuel 50 nuclear reactors, while Areva’s profits would be shipped back home to France and the waste could remain atop Idaho’s Snake River Aquifer for decades. The plant’s a long way from becoming reality, as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has yet to license the uranium factory, and there are big questions about whether it can get U.S. loan guarantees to help with financing.
To view Chelesea’s rap on YouTube, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vsz77rKm3_c&feature=email
And for more information on Areva and its proposed Idaho uranium enrichment factory, visit www.snakeriveralliance.org
On The Agenda:
► The Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on Feb. 3, 8 and 22. 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.
►The Idaho Public Utilities Commission will be taking public comments through April 15 on Idaho Power’s Integrated Resource Plan, which is the company’s roadmap on how it plans to meet future energy demands through energy efficiency and new generation and transmission. The plan can be found on Idaho Power’s website at www.idahopower.com/2009IRP or at the PUC’s website at www.puc.state.id.us and then “File Room” and then “Electric Cases” and scrolling to IPC-E-09-33.
► Free Environmental Film Series & Community Discussion takes place every Thursday in February from 7 to 9 p.m. at the North End Organic Nursery in the upstairs room at 2350 W. Hill Road in Boise. This is an informal gathering and a chance to see and discuss environmental films in a community forum. See www.greenworksidaho.org/calendar.asp for movies in the series.
► Lunch & LEED: Sustainable Business Practices, a monthly brown bag presented by the University of Idaho Boise, is a monthly meetings designed for business leaders in search of practical solutions that will help businesses make a commitment to sustain ability and improve their bottom line by focusing on people, profit and planet. The kick-off is Wednesday, Feb. 3, and subsequent meetings will be on the first Thursday of every month. The meetings are at the University of Idaho Boise, 322 E. Front Street in the Legacy Pointe room on the first floor. They take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. RSVP to [email protected] or by calling 334-2999. Bring your own lunch; drinks and cookies will be provided.
► The Office of Energy Resources is scheduled to appear before the Legislature’s Joint Finance Appropriations Committee (JFAC) for its budget presentation from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Feb. 3.
IN THE LEGISLATURE: 1st Energy Bill Would Streamline Green Energy Permits
The first energy-related bill of the 2010 legislative session was introduced in the Senate, but S1273 may have a tough ride unless it can pick up some majority support. The “Grow Green Idaho Jobs Act” is designed to expedite permitting of renewable energy projects being reviewed by state or local government agencies and to “ensure stakeholder participation in the evaluation of projects.”
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 www.legislature.idaho.gov and clicking the “Bill Center” link and then “Legislation By Subject” 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:
Renewable energy projects, expedite permits S1273
Here’s a look at the status of pending bills:
Expedite Renewable Energy Projects Permit Review (S1273):
Requires local governments and the state to expedite permits for renewable energy projects and to provide for public meetings on such applications in an accelerated fashion.
Status: Referred to Senate State Affairs on 2/25. No hearing set.
Sponsor(s): Sen. Kate Kelly (332-1351) and the House and Senate Democratic caucuses.