By Ken Miller
The Snake River Alliance welcomed Idaho Power’s announced plans to abandon coal and natural gas and go 100 percent “clean” energy by 2045.
Just 10 years ago, the state’s largest utility argued its customers favored cheaper coal power over other, cleaner alternatives. The company planned to stick with coal-fired generation as its second largest source of electricity after its legacy hydropower.
The Snake River Alliance became Idaho’s first clean energy, anti-coal advocate when it created its Clean Energy Program in May 2007 and has been dedicated to a coal and natural gas-free energy future for Idaho ever since. The past 10 years have seen a remarkable transition for Idaho Power, the Snake River Alliance, and our clean energy partners. There have been frustrations and missed opportunities along the way, but Idaho Power’s announcement was a milestone.
The Snake River Alliance was an early environmental member of Idaho Power’s Integrated Resource Plan Advisory Council (IRPAC), which works with the company to develop a long range energy plan every two years. The persistence of the Alliance, our clean energy colleagues, like-minded individuals, and influential customers like Simplot Company and the City of Boise moved Idaho Power to adopt many of our recommendations that are now the foundation for the company’s new carbon free goal.
Make no mistake, we want Idaho Power to achieve an earlier target year than 2045, and we’ll keep tabs on the company’s incremental progress. We remain concerned that hydropower, a large component of Idaho Power’s energy mix, has increasingly visible adverse effects on salmon, leading Rep. Mike Simpson and Governor Brad Little to evaluate hydropower’s impact on Idaho’s iconic salmon. Finally, we will continue to engage with Idaho Power to reiterate that “clean energy” does not include nuclear power. In March, the Alliance confirmed with Idaho Power that it is not actively pursuing an investment in the early stage small modular reactor proposed project in Eastern Idaho.
That said, we welcome Idaho Power’s far-sighted planning goal. We look forward to working with Idaho Power to achieve this goal, hopefully years ahead of schedule.