Idaho Energy Update
July 7, 2010
A General Electric subsidiary has purchased a majority stake in an 11-project wind farm complex in southern Idaho, finally clearing the way for development of the 122-turbine project. Meanwhile, Idaho Power has asked the PUC to approve a contract to buy power from a 10MW solar farm, and the utility has received the PUC green light to buy power from three Magic Valley digester generators. The PUC also approved Rocky Mountain Power’s request in part to raise the rate it charges to fund conservation programs. Thanks as always, and if you have any calendar items, please send them along!
Clean Energy Program Director
Snake River Alliance
I: General Electric Takes Majority Interest 11 Idaho Wind Projects
Construction of 11 southern Idaho wind projects that were approved by the Public Utilities Commission about five years ago is expected to finally begin now that energy giant General Electric has purchased a majority stake in the concern.
The $500 million complex, a group of 11 wind farms, were developed by Montana-based Exergy Development Group, which in 2005 reached 20-year agreements with Idaho Power to sell the energy. Most of the projects are located in the Bell Rapids area above the Snake River near Hagerman; some are to the east near Burley in Cassia County.
GE Energy Financial Services last week announced it had purchased a majority of what is now Idaho Wind Partners.
“Through our investment in Idaho’s largest wind power portfolio, GE Energy Financial Services is putting millions of dollars to work to bring jobs and clean energy to Idaho and help the country meet growing demand for domestic, renewable sources of energy,” Kevin Walsh, managing director and head of Power and Renewable Energy for the company, said in a news release.
Combined, the 11 projects will feature 122 of GE’s 1.5-megawatt (MW) turbines and have a capacity to generate 183MW, which depending on the time of year can provide enough power for 39,700 average Idaho homes.
GE Energy Financial Services said construction has begun on some of the sites by Fagen, Inc., of Granite Falls, Minn. The wind farms are expected to be completed by about year’s end.
II: Idaho Power Seeks Approval of Elmore County Solar Project
Idaho Power is asking the Public Utilities Commission to approve a 20-year contract with Grand View Solar PV One to purchase the output from Idaho’s first utility-scale solar power project.
According to documents filed with the PUC, Grand View is building a solar photovoltaic generation facility on about 180 acres located 16 miles west of Mountain Home. The solar farm’s “nameplate” or rated capacity is 20MW, but documents indicate the facility will provide 10 average megawatts on a monthly basis. Idaho Power will take any additional electricity, but at no charge. Grand View expects to complete the project by the end of next January.
The PUC will now consider how to process Idaho Power’s application, and will then issue a notice for public comment. To review the documents in this case, go to www.puc.idaho.gov and then “File Room” and then “Electric Cases” and then scroll to IPC-E-10-19.
III: Rocky Mountain Power Gets OK to Boost Conservation Program Funding
Rocky Mountain Power has received the Public Utilities Commission’s blessing to raise its “Customer Efficiency Services Rate” from 3.72 percent of customer bills to 4.72 percent.
The rate, sometimes called an “energy efficiency tariff rider” is a portion of a customer’s bill that funds a variety of energy-saving measures. Rocky Mountain Power, which serves portions of eastern Idaho, had asked for an increase to 5.85 percent. Commissioners granted 4.72 percent while the PUC examines additional issues.
Rocky Mountain Power’s charge funds such things as an irrigation load control program; homeowner incentives to purchase energy efficient appliances, insulation, windows and lighting; and a low-income weatherization program. The utility said it invests about $5.2 million a year in seven conservation programs, but estimates those programs generated $17.1 million in customer benefits last year. The PUC-approved rate increase will boost the energy efficiency investments to about $6.7 million.
Idaho Power customers pay a 4.75 percent efficiency rider, which was approved by the PUC last year. To review the PUC order and other documents in the case, visit www.puc.idaho.gov and then “File Room” and then “Electric Cases” and scroll to PAC-E-10-03.
IV: PUC Approves Idaho Power Digester Contracts
Idaho Power has received Public Utilities Commission approval of contracts with three anaerobic digester generation projects in southern Idaho.
All of the 15-year agreements are with Middleton-based New Energy One. They include the 4-megawatt Rock Creek Dairy project near Filer, the 2MW Swager Farms project near Buhl, and the 2MW Double B Dairy project near Murtaugh. The three plants process organic wastes such as livestock waste into a gas, which is then converted into electricity.
To review the PUC’s order or other documents relating to these projects and the Idaho Power contracts, visit www.puc.idaho.gov and click “File Room” and “Electric Cases” and scroll to IPC-E-10-16, -17, and -18.
On The Agenda:
► The Public Utilities Commission holds its next decision meetings on July 12 and 26. 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.
► Idaho Power has scheduled a series of Community Advisory Process open houses to present information about its proposed Boardman to Hemingway transmission line from southwest Idaho northwest to Boardman on the Columbia River. The meetings are from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. July 13 at Brogan Community Event Center, 5621 Clark St. in Brogan, OR; July 14 at Blue Mountain Conference Center, 404 12 St. in LaGrande, OR; July 15 at the American Legion Hall, 126 N. Bruneau Highway in Marsing, ID; July 20 at the Baker Community Event Center, 2600 East St. in Baker City, OR; July 21 at Pilot Rock Community Center, 285 NW Cedar Place in Pilot Rock, OR; and July 22 at Port of Morrow Convention Center, 2 Marine Drive in Boardman.
To learn more about the Boardman to Hemingway project, visit: www.boardmantohemingway.com