In mid-summer, Idaho Power announced a review of what’s called its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). In this review, the utility identified a few changes it needed to make to correctly reflect its power system.

A few months ago, Idaho Power released a final version of this IRP (formally called “The Second Amended 2019 IRP), which suggests (as it has in previous versions) that Idaho Power add 120 MW of solar power by 2022, continue to divest from coal-fired power plant units throughout the 2020s, and begin using the Boardman to Hemingway transmission line in 2026.

A major change in this IRP is Idaho Power’s early divestment, by 2022, from Valmy Unit 2, a coal-fired power plant in Nevada, to save its customers money. Previous IRPs supported an exit from Valmy Unit 2 by 2025, three years later. This is good news. The IRP also specified the economic benefits of divesting from five additional coal-fired generating units in Nevada by the end of 2026 and the two others that remain by 2030. More good news.

The Idaho Conservation League wholeheartedly supports early divestments from dirty and expensive coal-fired power plants. We’re concerned, though, that Idaho Power’s strategy to replace this coal power could leave Idaho behind when there are concrete, viable options that will benefit Idahoans.

You may recall Idaho Power’s attempt to stifle Idaho’s rooftop solar market by changing net metering compensation rules last year. While the Idaho Public Utilities Commission rejected that effort, Idaho Power’s latest plan does not even consider whether more customer-owned generation of electricity, such as rooftop solar, is the right thing for Idaho. Idaho Power has maintained this uncertainty through its proposed changes to net metering for commercial, industrial, and irrigation customers.

Instead of specific investments in Idaho that benefits Idahoans, the utility plans to build the massive Boardman to Hemingway transmission line from southwest Idaho into Oregon. We are concerned that Idaho Power is not committing to connect specific clean energy projects onto this line, and plans to rely on a non-specific “market” to supply clean power.

Instead of a vague reliance on the market, Idaho Power should commit to more specific, local clean energy projects like the Jackpot Solar plant south of Twin Falls. This solar project will deliver some of the lowest-cost power ever seen. And there is more clean energy potential just waiting to be tapped right here in Idaho. Combat climate change, invest in clean energy that creates jobs in Idaho, what’s not to like?

Now is the time to speak up and tell the PUC that you support Idaho Power’s 100% clean commitment, but you expect your utility to invest in Idaho and its customers. Comments on Idaho Power’s Second Amended IRP are being accepted through January 20, 2021.

Idaho Power should follow its IRP’s support of early coal plant exits, as it’s the best option for Idaho customers and our global climate. Idaho Power should clarify their commitment to clean energy by investing in Idaho’s abundant solar potential and local energy storage projects instead of building massive power lines and new methane gas plants. Instead of stifling customer-owned solar through net metering, Idaho Power should partner with customers to achieve 100% clean energy for Idaho.