Ben Otto is the energy associate for the Idaho Conservation League. This guest opinion by Ben is reprinted with permission from the Idaho Statesman.
Idahoans know what’s good for Idaho. That is why, despite the anti-science rhetoric from the White House, we continue to see Idaho companies and individuals invest in our clean energy future instead of the dirty fossil fuels of the past. It’s time our politicians follow this leadership and stand up for Idaho’s clean energy future.
Anyone driving across Southern Idaho sees firsthand the growing investment in clean energy across our state. The wind and solar plants dotting the land are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The real progress comes from companies like Simplot, Jerome Cheese and ON Semiconductor, which are investing millions to ensure factories conserve energy. In addition, thousands of Idahoans have switched light bulbs and appliances to save energy at home – keeping pollution out of our air and money in our pockets.
Our utilities are following this leadership by working with customers to retire coal plants. PacifiCorp’s recent long-term resource plan is based around retiring coal plants in the mid-2020s in favor of mostly wind power. Why? Well, the bottom line is that coal is just too expensive compared with cleaner options.
In May, the Idaho Conservation League reached a deal with Idaho Power and others to retire the North Valmy coal plant in Nevada beginning in 2019. We are pleased to find common ground that keeps energy reliable and affordable while protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the stable climate our farmers, fish, and forests rely on.
Idahoans know that the clean energy sector creates jobs in the Gem State while contributing to America’s energy independence. Historically we relied on far-flung coal plants to provide about half our electricity. Importing fossil fuels drains some $350 million annually from our state, according to a study commissioned by the Idaho Conservation League.
Instead, let’s reinvest our energy dollars at home and create a win-win-win for Idaho: We create Idaho jobs, we invest in secure energy sources, and we protect the air, water and climate that make Idaho wonderful.
While Idahoans focus on facts and seek solutions, rhetoric from the Trump administration relies on false claims and cynical promises to restore a bygone era. Earlier this year, the White House released an executive order trying to delay the inevitable for the coal industry. But that order flies in the face of strong trends already underway in energy markets across the country.
Now it’s time for Idaho’s politicians to do their part. Part of Trump’s agenda includes rolling back important air quality safeguards while hobbling the growing clean energy industry. Contact your elected officials and tell them to stand up for Idaho’s future by promoting conservation and clean energy. Idahoans are leading. Let’s make sure our politicians follow.
Ben Otto is an energy associate for the Idaho Conservation League.