Idaho Energy Update
January 8, 2010
Just five days after the would-be developer of an Idaho nuclear reactor touted an imminent deal to import Korean nuclear reactors to Idaho, the state-run Korean reactor manufacturer quickly denied the deal is in the works. Also, Idaho Power filed its 2009 “Integrated Resource Plan” with the Idaho PUC, outlining how it expects to meet future energy needs for the coming two decades. Idaho Power also reported to the PUC how it plans to manage the credits it receives from renewable energy projects. And the BLM has released proposed and alternate routes for the proposed Gateway West transmission project that will span southern Idaho. For more on these developments, please read on.
Thanks as always, and if you have any calendar items, please send them along!
Clean Energy Program Director
Snake River Alliance
I: Korean Nuke Firm Downplays AEHI Report of Imminent Reactor Deal
Less than a week after the would-be developer of an Idaho nuclear reactor touted an imminent deal to import Korean nuclear reactors to Idaho and elsewhere, the state-run Korean Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) quickly denied the deal is in the works.
Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc. issued a news release Jan. 4 claiming “AEHI Expects to Close Deal to Import Korean Reactors in Early 2010.” The release said AEHI CEO Don Gillispie had jetted to Seoul “to finalize negotiations with Korean Electric Power Company, KEPCO, to import the South Korean’s advanced reactor, APR 1400, for its Idaho and Colorado sites.” The release quoted Gillispie as claiming, “We are pleased to have played a small part in encouraging the Koreans to export their superior reactor and now we would like to complete our negotiations to bring the APR 1400 into the US for the first time including helping achieve NRC design certification.”
That came as news to KEPCO, the Korean firm that is part of an international consortium that recently signed a $20 billion deal for a nuclear reactor project in the United Arab Emirates. “We don’t see much likelihood of a deal,” a KEPCO spokeswoman was quoted in the Korea Times as saying today. “I’m afraid AEHI is going a bit too far in promoting it.” She continued: “The nuclear industry deals with massive projects and is sensitive to safety. If we are to strike a deal with a private company, we would want a more sizeable one.”
In addition, the Korean government said in a news release Wednesday that Gillispie’s presence in Seoul “must not be seen as a concrete step that could lead to another export deal for South Korean nuclear reactors.” The release quoted a source in the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, who said “there is no proof that AEHI has the resources to build nuclear reactors.”
AEHI came to Idaho in 2006 with plans to build a reactor in Owyhee County. When those plans collapsed, the company moved upstream on the Snake River to nearby Elmore County, where its plans to build a reactor above the river on prime farmland met stiff opposition by local residents and the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission. So the company went back downstream late last year to Payette County, where it is once again trying to rezone land for the reactor.
We reported in December that AEHI failed to meet a deadline it set for itself to submit the application for a reactor to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the end of 2009, telling the NRC instead it will file applications for all three Idaho sites from mid-2011 to mid-2012. However, in an NRC memorandum dated Dec. 9 and discussing a meeting between NRC and KEPCO, NRC staff notified the Korean developer that the agency budget won’t allow a review of the APR 1400 for at least another two years.
II: Idaho Power Files Resource Plan with PUC
Idaho Power filed its 2009 “Integrated Resource Plan” with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission in late December, outlining how it expects to meet future energy needs for the coming two decades.
The IRP, which Idaho’s regulated electric utilities prepare every other year, was developed over a year’s worth of meetings between the company and its IRP advisory panel. Among other things, it calls for 540 megawatts of committed and new generation resources between now and 2019 and another 425MW of new transmission in the same period. It envisions reducing energy loads by 127 average megawatts by 2029, a 53 percent increase over the measures in the last IRP. Peak summer loads would be sliced by 367MW by 2012.
Planned new generation resources include 150MW of wind and the 300MW from the new Langley Gulch natural gas plant and 20MW of geothermal in 2012; 49MW from a new turbine at the Shoshone Falls power plant and 250MW in new transmission from southwest Idaho to the Columbia River in central Oregon in 2015; 20MW of additional geothermal in 2016; and 175MW more in transmission from the new transmission line to Oregon in 2017. The plan also said Idaho Power plans to embark on a yet-to-be-defined solar energy pilot project.
The PUC doesn’t approve or deny the resource plan. Instead it reviews weeks of public comment and “acknowledges” receipt of the plan, which is not binding. The PUC will soon set a public comment period to allow for comments on the IRP and its supporting documents. 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.
III: Idaho Power Outlines Plans to Manage Renewable Energy Credits
As requested by the PUC, Idaho Power has filed a plan on how it will manage the renewable energy credits that come with wind, geothermal and other renewable energy acquired by the company.
Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), sometimes called “green tags,” are certificates that represent each megawatt-hour of electricity generated by a renewable energy resource such as a wind farm. The RECs have marketable value, but only the owner of the REC can claim the environmental attributes from the REC’s renewable energy resource. So for a utility like Idaho Power to claim it’s providing “green” power from the 101MW Elkhorn Valley Wind Project in Oregon or the 10MW from the Raft River geothermal project in southern Idaho, it would have to possess the RECs from those resources. In 2008, Idaho Power asked the PUC for permission to “retire” those tags, or take them out of circulation so it could continue to claim credit for the renewable energy. But the PUC told the company it had to sell the tags and return most of the proceeds to customers. So while that green power is coming onto Idaho Power’s system, it no longer has the RECs and cannot claim credit for the renewable energy.
That’s a particular concern for Idaho Power, because if the federal government imposes requirements that utilities must have a certain percentage of renewable energy in its portfolio, the RECs serve as evidence that it does. As a result of the 2008 case, the PUC told Idaho Power to come up with a management plan for the disposition of future RECs, and the company did so on Dec. 30.
Under the company’s plan, Idaho Power will continue to hold onto the long-term contractual rights to the RECs from its renewable energy resources in case federal legislation eventually requires the company to have them. But in the short term, Idaho Power will sell the RECs on the markets and return the revenues to customers through its annual adjustment to reflect the costs of its power over the prior year.
To review Idaho Power’s REC plan and other documents in this case, visit www.puc.state.id.us and then “File Room” and then “Closed Cases” and then “Electric” and scroll to IPC-E-08-24.
IV: BLM Zeroes in on Controversial Gateway West Transmission Line Routes
The Bureau of Land Management has announced proposed and alternate routes to analyze as part of the huge Gateway West transmission line project that will begin near Casper, Wyoming, and stretch across southern Idaho to a substation near Murphy south of Nampa, Idaho.
The BLM said the routes were selected in response to comments from scoping meetings held in 2008 and reviewing input from a variety of federal and local agencies. The 1,150-mile high-voltage transmission line, proposed by Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power, has drawn criticism from some southern Idaho communities concerned about its impacts. The participating utilities claim the line is necessary to meet growing electricity demands and to make it possible to move energy from remotely located renewable energy projects such as Wyoming and Idaho wind farms.
A draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on the project and the routes is expected to be released this summer, triggering a 90-day public comment period and a series of public meetings in both states.
To review the proposed routes, sign up for an electronic newsletter, and for more information on the Gateway West project, visit www.wy.blm.gov/nepa/cfodocs/gateway_west.
On The Agenda:
► The Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on Jan. 11, 19, and 25. 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.